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Demented Brothers

Declan Kiberd: William Trevor, 8 March 2001

The Hill Bachelors 
by William Trevor.
Viking, 245 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 0 670 89256 4
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... George Birmingham, a Church of Ireland clergyman and novelist, wrote in 1926 that the Irish conflict, whatever its roots, could now be reduced to a matter of style: In Catholicism there seems to be a certain suavity, the result of a feeling of security. Protestantism is another name for aggression in religion. The Catholic spirit belongs to the man who is comfortably aware of being one of the unassailable majority ...

Astride a White Horse

Declan Kiberd: Bridget Clearly, 6 January 2000

The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story 
by Angela Bourke.
Pimlico, 240 pp., £10, August 1999, 0 7126 6590 0
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... In the spring of 1998 a Dutch TV crew arrived in the parish of Moyvane, Co. Kerry. They were making a documentary about poetry and landscape, and interviewed a farmer about a fairy-mound in one of his fields near the village. He explained that for many local people it was a forbidden place, and that he had never dared to plough it over because of the distress it would cause ...

Playboys of the GPO

Colm Tóibín, 18 April 1996

Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation 
by Declan Kiberd.
Cape, 719 pp., £20, November 1995, 0 224 04197 5
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... and emotional climate where everything from the self to the nation was open to invention. Declan Kiberd tries in this vast, wide-ranging book to find various contexts in which the literature of the Irish Renaissance can be placed. To write a deliberately new style, whether Hiberno-English or Whitmanian slang, was to seize power for new voices in ...

Pen Men

Elaine Showalter, 20 March 1986

Men and Feminism in Modern Literature 
by Declan Kiberd.
Macmillan, 250 pp., £13.95, September 1985, 0 333 38353 2
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Women Writing about Men 
by Jane Miller.
Virago, 256 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 86068 473 3
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Phallic Critiques: Masculinity and 20th-century Literature 
by Peter Schwenger.
Routledge, 172 pp., £29.50, September 1985, 0 7102 0164 8
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... appropriating or challenging the strategies of feminist discourse rather than questioning its own. Declan Kiberd’s Men and Feminism in Modern Literature is a workmanlike study which nonetheless displays many of the contradictions of male feminist criticism. Deploring the way that Mailer’s ‘eloquent cry of protest’ against feminism in The Prisoner ...

Belfast Diary

Edna Longley: In Belfast, 9 January 1992

... the colonial past ... transfigured into a brilliant metaphor of Anglo-Irish relations’. However, Declan Kiberd encountered editorial problems with ‘contemporary poetry’, since most poets are not coming up with the right metaphors. They have ‘remarkably little to say’ about politics North or South. This means that they don’t say what ...


Edna Longley: Ireland by Others, 17 September 1987

... largely unexamined. Indeed, all the sins of omission may point to inadmissible ties. Not that Declan Kiberd, director of the Yeats Summer School, would admit them. Citing the ideas of Edward Said, he recently argued that ‘ “Irishness” is simply the experience of being endlessly defined and described, derided and defended, by others.’ This is ...


Terry Eagleton, 7 July 1994

The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats. Vol. III: 1901-1904 
edited by John Kelly and Ronald Schuchard.
Oxford, 781 pp., £35, May 1994, 0 19 812683 2
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Modern Irish Literature: Sources and Founders 
by Vivian Mercier.
Oxford, 381 pp., £30, April 1994, 0 19 812074 5
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... Beckett and the Bible’, thus comes as a timely reminder of the limits of fashion. As Declan Kiberd remarks in an affectionate Introduction, Mercier was one of the last of the gentleman scholars, and one does not turn to his work for path-breaking concepts or supersubtle analysis. What one gets instead is the presence of a ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... most of the younger poets. A look at selections from Kinsella, McGuckian and Muldoon suggests that Declan Kiberd prefers accessibility to the hermeticism that is usually taken to be characteristic of these writers. There are very good poems throughout this section, but it feels as if everything too difficult has been left out. It seems insensitive to ...

What’s Coming

David Edgar: J.M. Synge, 22 March 2001

Fool of the Family: A Life of J.M. Synge 
by W.J. McCormack.
Weidenfeld, 499 pp., £25, March 2000, 0 297 64612 5
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Interpreting Synge: Essays from the Synge Summer School 1991-2000 
edited by Nicholas Grene.
Lilliput, 220 pp., £29.95, July 2000, 1 901866 47 5
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... of keening over the dead, which provides the ending for both Synge’s first and last play, and by Declan Kiberd on the cultural assumptions – uncomfortably close to those exposed by Edward Said in Orientalism – that lay behind Synge’s expedition to the Aran Islands. Finally, like McCormack, the Irish playwright Frank McGuinness seeks to capture ...

Let’s Do the Time Warp

Clair Wills: Modern Irish History, 3 July 2008

Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change c.1970-2000 
by R.F. Foster.
Penguin, 228 pp., £8.99, July 2008, 978 0 14 101765 5
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... leisure time in faux Irish pubs; they experience their heritage through folk parks. He quotes Declan Kiberd to the effect that now, as at the turn of the last century, the task is that of distinguishing what is good in nationalism from what is bad. But the real difficulty seems to lie in distinguishing what is good from what is brand. Parallels ...


Paul Muldoon: Hiberno-English Shenanigans, 1 July 1999

... 10 March. At 6:45 a.m. I set off by car service to Newark airport to catch the 10 a.m. Virgin/Continental flight to Gatwick. At this time of the morning the New Jersey Turnpike is too busy altogether. This use of altogether, I’m reminded by Terence Patrick Dolan in A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, means ‘wholly, completely’ and may be compared to the Irish phrase ar fad, particularly in its positioning at the end of a sentence ...

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