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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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Crosscultural Dialogue and Translation

7 |   Lajos Kossuth and Michael Davitt, Turin, 18851

Extract

Carla King

On 24 January 1885, the Irish nationalist, agrarian reformer and journalist, Michael Davitt (1846-1906), paid a visit to the exiled Hungarian leader, Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894), at his apartment on the Via Dei Mille, in Turin. This paper will discuss their meeting and use it as a starting-point from which to compare the men, their politics and their ideas. In terms of their lives – both leaders making their living from public speaking and journalism, and their characters – proud, hard-working, independent-minded men – there are similarities to be drawn. In political terms, too, their nationalism was combined with liberalism and both had links specifically to the Radical wing of British liberalism. However, this paper will also examine their differences, comparing the social and political milieux in which they functioned, and asking whether dissimilarities in their approaches to nationalism may also be attributed to developments in European politics between the middle and the final decades of the nineteenth century.

Like so many other European states, Ireland also experienced a revolution in 1848, but while Hungary’s war of independence was the longest-lasting and bloodiest of the mid-nineteenth century European revolutions,2 the Irish rising was a small and almost farcical failure, whatever revolutionary potential there might have been in the country being dissipated by the effects of the Great ←121 | 122→Famine.3 And while Kossuth was leading the Hungarian revolution, Davitt’s family, small tenant farmers in Mayo, on the impoverished western seaboard, were struggling with the failure of the...

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