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Authors: Declan Kiberd

Inventing Ireland

Table of Contents


Declan Kiberd was born in Dublin in 1951. He took a degree in English and Irish at Trinity College, Dublin, and he holds a doctorate from Oxford University. Among his books are
Synge and the Irish Language, Men and Feminism in Modern Literature
Idir Dha Chultur.
He writes regularly for Irish newspapers, has prepared literary scripts for the BBC, and is a former director of the Yeats International Summer School. He has lectured on Irish culture in more than twenty countries and has taught at University College, Dublin, for sixteen years. He is married with three children.


Synge And The Irish Language

Men And Feminism In Modern Literature

Anglo-Irish Attitudes

Omnium Gatherum: Essays For Richard Ellmann

An Crann Faoi Bhláth: The Flowering Tree
Contemporary Irish Poetry With Verse Translations

Idir Dha Chultur

Inventing Ireland:
The Literature Of The Modern Nation

'Inventing Ireland
is that completely unusual thing: a highly readable, joyfully contentious book whose enormous learning and superb understanding of the literary text will introduce readers for the first time to a remarkably lively panorama of Irish culture during the last century. Full of novel readings, theoretical investigations and audacious connections, Declan Kiberd's book lifts Ireland out of ethnic studies and lore and places it in the post-colonial world. In doing so he situates its great cultural traditions where they jostle not only the major texts of English literature, but also those of writers like Salman Rushdie and García Márquez. The result is a dazzling, bravura performance'
Edward W. Said

'[A] thought-provoking and entertaining critical blockbuster... There is no doubt that this book immediately joins a small group of indispensable books on Anglo-Irish literary history. It is also typical of the best of that school in the brio and wit with which its learning and intelligence are carried' Bernard O'Donoghue,
Times Literary Supplement

'Inventing Ireland
is exactly what its title claims – an act of exuberant creativity. Nimbly, skilfully, and almost with a sense of near-wonderment at his own discoveries, Kiberd explores the continuities between Irish past and Irish present. And by focusing on what he calls "revered masterpieces", and by examining them in the wider social context out of which they came, he fashions a nation that is hospitable to all its prickly constituents'
Brian Friel

'A critical study laced with wit, energy and unrelenting adroitness of discourse... Mr Kiberd possesses a special gift for patient exploration of works of art in relationship to their surroundings... wit, paradox and an almost indecent delight in verbal jugglery place Mr Kiberd himself in a central Irish literary tradition that also includes Swift, Joyce and Beckett... impudent, eloquent, full of jokes and irreverence, by turns sardonic and conciliatory, blithely subversive but, without warning, turning to display wide and serious reading, a generosity of spirit, a fierce and authentic concern for social and political justice. Rather like Wilde and Shaw... a remarkable achievement'
Thomas Flanagan,
New York Times

'Inventing Ireland...
deserves to be read, not only by people with a special interest in Irish writing, but also by people with a strong interest in modern writing in English. Kiberd has much that is original and valuable to say... I recommend
Inventing Ireland
to my readers'
Conor Cruise O'Brien,
Sunday Telegraph

'That somebody so knowledgable of the roots of Irish writing – in Irish – could move through Anglo-Irish literature and engage all the contemporary debates make one stand in awe of the breadth of Kiberd's scholarship. That the story is presented with wit and vigour is a further pleasure'
Michael D. Higgins T.D.

'Declan Kiberd's passionate, opinionated, often witty, celebratory study... will engage both specialists and general readers'
Eileen Battersby,
Books of the Year,
Irish Times

'A splendid book... A striking quality of this book is the author's ability to combine perceptive insight into literary matters with a keen awareness of the political forces that shaped this century'
Ulick O'Connor,
Sunday Independent

'A dazzling book, a book to cherish and revisit. As you read and reread the Anglo-Irish texts, you'll find it altering them, lightening them up. It changes Beckett and Joyce; it especially changes John Millington Synge. It ends by offering to reshape Irish Studies curricula'
Hugh Kenner,
Washington Times

'Often brilliant and always intelligent'
Fintan O'Toole,

'A fabulous story... and an important, partisan and highly readable book for believers and sceptics alike. Someone ought to put it on John Major's bedside table'
Brenda Maddox,
Literary Review

'Formidable, thoroughly enjoyable, always engaged, often brilliant... This is the fullest attempt we have had to date to read both Irish historical experience and the literature that this has involved in the light of post-colonial theory'
Terence Brown,
The Tribune Magazine

'One of the best studies of Irish literature to come along in years'
Michael Stephens,
Washington Post

'A joy to read – endlessly provocative in its arguments and inventive in its comparisons'
Joseph O'Connor,
Sunday Tribune

'Epical in its aims and achievements... Kiberd's most striking characteristic as a critic is his. intellectual daring, a kind of dignified audacity: he is capable of saying things that simply take one's breath away'
Brendan Kennelly,
Sunday Business Post

'A magisterial book... the prose sparkles. Kiberd wears his impressive learning lightly and relishes aphorism and anecdote...
Inventing Ireland
displays numerous themes on a huge canvas, but is remarkably lucid'
Robert Taylor,
Boston Globe

'A life-affirming and positive book... Declan Kiberd has a genius for making what has not yet been expressed into the most blindingly clear cop-on... Aphorism and quotable quotes spring up at every hand, jokes appear unannounced and every sentence lands on all fours... The tone here is one of celebration and success and generosity'
Alan Titley,
Books Ireland

'Kiberd is a gifted linguist, uniquely qualified as a writer and critic in both Irish and English languages... One ends the book admiring his intellectual brio and engagement, and applauding his recognition of Irish cultural diversity'
Roy Foster,
The Times

'Since Roy Foster published his
Modern Ireland
in 1988 the national shrine has been echoing with impious voices... But the arrival of the 'Revisionists' is already an old story. Now they have been put on their mettle by the 'Re-Inventers'... Declan Kiberd's brilliant new book,
Inventing Ireland,
is an example'
Neal Ascherson,
Independent on Sunday

Declan Kiberd


The Literature of the
Modern Nation

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

ISBN 9781409044970

Version 1.0

Published by Vintage 1996

12 14 16 18 20 19 17 15 13 11

Copyright © Declan Kiberd 1995

The right of Declan Kiberd to be identified as the author
of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988

This electronic book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

First published in Great Britain by
Jonathan Cape 1995

Vintage Books
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1V 2SA

Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:

The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009

A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library

ISBN: 9781409044970

Version 1.0

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