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Literary and Cultural Relations

Ireland, Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe

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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.

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Introduction

Introduction

Extract

Mária Kurdi

The papers collected in this book were originally given at the first conference of the Hungarian Society for Irish Studies (HUSIS), a small but dedicated body of scholars, which took place at the University of Pécs in September 2007. The theme of the conference, the same as the title of the present volume, was chosen with great care by those members who attended the annual meeting of HUSIS in late 2006. That meeting was generously hosted by the Embassy of Ireland, Budapest. We tried to make its topics as broad as possible to show relationships with Ireland. Fortunately, the conference managed to attract not only Irish and Hungarian scholars but also scholars from countries like the Czech Republic, Romania, France, Sweden, and the United States.

In October 2005 an unprecedented event called ‘Forum on the Future of Irish Studies’ was held at the European University Institute of Florence. It brought together over fifty scholars from Ireland and a range of European countries, the United States, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, and proved to be a uniquely fruitful opportunity to discuss ideas pertaining to the present fate and the future endeavours of Irish Studies worldwide. The plenary lectures were later published in an elegant little volume alongside reports about the sessions, in which one can read about the need for addressing topics in Irish Studies on a comparative basis in order to reshape critical paradigms and allow ←1 | 2→approaches to...

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