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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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4 | ‘Suitably Relevant’: Irish Drama and Theatre in the Czech Republic, 2000-2007

4 |   ‘Suitably Relevant’: Irish Drama and Theatre in the Czech Republic, 2000-2007

Extract

Ondřej Pilný

Modern Irish drama has maintained a steady presence on Czech stages ever since the early twentieth century. Authors who exercised particular influence in the vibrant theatrical culture prior to World War II included, most prominently, George Bernard Shaw, who had over fifteen plays translated and produced by the end of the 1930s and who also interacted with important Czech writers and intellectuals such as Karel Čapek. Apart from Shaw, Czech audiences enjoyed early productions of J.M. Synge, whose translations by Karel Mušek were among the first in Europe. Oscar Wilde's plays appeared in Czech as early as the early 1900s, and started to be regularly performed in the second half of the century. Translations of Wilde’s dramas had moreover been preceded by the enthusiastic publication of Wilde’s poetry and essays by Czech Decadents. The 1950s saw another wave of productions of Shaw, while in the 1960s it was the work of Samuel Beckett that significantly influenced young absurdist playwrights like Václav Havel, with Godot and Endgame also having major impact on ideas concerning set design and the use of space in theatre. Besides Beckett, one of the most widely discussed productions of the sixties was Brendan Behan’s The Hostage. The 1980s and 1990s featured ←65 | 66→in turn a number of acclaimed productions of Brian Friel’s plays, culminating in frequent revivals of Dancing at Lughnasa.1

My intention, however, is to examine the most recent developments, particularly in the light of the...

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