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Irish Studies: Irish Literature

This resource will act as a guide for research in the area of Irish Studies.

Irish Literature

 Irish Literature

Over the centuries, the Irish have been outstanding contributors to the Western literary canon.  The Irish can boast of 4 Nobel prizes for literature (William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney) who represent only a fraction of the illustrious writers Ireland has produced.  Here we display works by some of Ireland’s most accomplished writers.  James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses, is considered one of the most influential books of the 20th century.  His work is said to have had a profound effect on Samuel Beckett who authored the iconic play, Waiting for Godot. Most people are surprised to learn that Bram Stoker who wrote the chilling novel, Dracula, is Irish.  His tome, along with Oscar Wilde’s tale, The Picture of Dorian Gray, were major contributions to the Gothic genre.  Anglo-Irish writers such as Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, and the playwright, Brian Friel, who is known as the Irish Chekov, added their distinct styles to the list of luminous Irish writers. Friel has written over 30 plays, including Philadelphia Here I Come and Dancing at Lughnasa. Women writers have been major contributors to Irish literature. Lady Gregory co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre and wrote numerous short works for both companies. Kate O’Brien’s books deal with issues of female agency and sexuality in ways that were new and radical at the time.  Both women were forerunners in a field not always friendly to them.

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