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Gained in Translation

Language, Poetry and Identity in Twentieth-Century Ireland

Kathleen Shields

This is a study of the importance of translation for twentieth-century literature in Ireland, particularly poetry. While the focus is principally on writing in English, the main argument is that translation transforms this literature by opening it up to the other literatures of Europe. The work falls into three parts: in the first the poets of the 1930s and their multilingual texts are considered. The second part deals with writers of the 1960s and 1970s and the transactions between literature in English and literature in Irish. The third part treats more recent writers and their use of translation to refer to historical events, places and lives. These visible translators, by manipulating their chosen texts, constantly call into question the idea of a national literature. The approach throughout is to bring issues current in translation studies to bear upon the field of literary criticism.
Contents: Translation and literature – National languages and literary maps – Host language – Minority language – Translation goals – Biographical and topographical reference – Visible translators.
I. Samuel Beckett, Brian Coffey, Denis Devlin, Thomas MacGreevy.
II. Thomas Kinsella, Michael Hartnett.
III. Derek Mahon, Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson.