Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Media notes

A complex and interesting article by Richard English in the Financial Times today on the overlapping but often conflicting literary traditions in Ireland; worth a full read and not easily summarised, but an one essential point argued here --

Of course, no amount of auto-biography or poetry can simply solve the problems faced by nationalist communities in struggle. Nowhere is this clearer than in Ireland, where the paradoxes of national identity have been painfully demonstrated again and again. Yes, literary and other artistic output helped Irish nationalists to achieve independence from Britain in the 1920s, but once that independence had been won, the new Irish nationalist state soon banned much of the best of Irish writing.

As one of the IRA man Ernie O'Malley's friends - the American academic John V. Kelleher - crisply described the situation in independent Ireland by the mid-20th century: "Every Irish author of any standing is represented on the list of banned books. Since the [1929 Censorship] Act went into effect, about 1,500 books have been proscribed, including just about every Irish novel worth reading." The author and nationalist Sean O'Faolain pungently noted that in 1948, Ireland had been turned into "the worst country in the world for intellectuals".

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