Ireland, Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe
Edited By Maria Kurdi
The lively, informative and incisive collection of essays sheds fascinating new light on the literary interrelations between Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic. It charts a hitherto under-explored history of the reception of modern Irish culture in Central and Eastern Europe and also investigates how key authors have been translated, performed, and adapted. The work of Jonathan Swift, John Millington Synge, Flann O'Brien, Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and Martin McDonagh, it is indicated, has particularly inspired writers, directors, and translators. The searching analyses presented here illuminatingly reflect on the far-reaching political and social import of multicultural exchange. It is shown to be a process that is at best mutually defining and that raises questions about received forms of identity, the semiotics of genre and the possibilities and limits of linguistic translation. In addition, the histories compiled here of critical commentary on Irish literature in Hungary or of the staging of contemporary Irish plays in Hungary and in the Czech Republic, for example, uncover the haphazardness of intercultural exchange and the extent to which it is vulnerable to political ideology, social fashion, and the vagaries of state funding. The revealing explorations undertaken in this volume of a wide array of Irish dramatic and literary texts, ranging from Gulliver's Travels to Translations and The Pillowman, tease out the subtly altered nuances that they acquire in a Central European context. By the same token, it is demonstrated that Ireland has been changed by the recent migration of workers from Eastern Europe and that consequently projections of the figure of the emigrant or asylum seeker in current drama warrant scrutiny. This original and combative collection demonstrates, not only that literary exchange between Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Ireland has been prolonged, multifaceted and, above all, enriching, but also that it exposes blind-spots, and forces confrontation with issues of racism, failure of empathy and cultural misprision.
The papers published in this book were originally given at the first international conference of HUSIS, the Hungarian Society for Irish Studies, which was hosted by the University of Pécs in September 2007. As conference organizer and editor I wish to thank the Embassy of Ireland, Budapest, and the University of Pécs for their generous support of both the conference and the publication of this volume. Thanks are also due to my colleagues in the Department of English Literatures and Cultures and members of the Irish Studies Research Centre at UP who helped me with the work of organization, as well as to the group of Hungarian and international scholars who peer-reviewed the papers and gave me advice in the process of selection and editing. Finally, I express my gratitude to directors Dan Farrelly, Lilian Chambers, and Eamonn Jordan of Carysfort Press, who have made the publication of this book possible.
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