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Literary and Cultural Relations

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.

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Csilla Bertha teaches at Debrecen University, Hungary. Her publications on Irish drama include Yeats the Playwright (in Hungarian); volumes co-authored or co-edited with Donald E. Morse: Worlds Visible and Invisible, A Small Nation’s Contribution to the World, More Real than Reality, and, with also Mária Kurdi, Brian Friel’s Dramatic Artistry. With Morse she co-translated Silenced Voices, a volume of Transylvanian-Hungarian plays (Carysfort, 2008).

Zsuzsa Csikai, an instructor in the Department of English Literatures and Cultures, University of Pécs, has completed her PhD dissertation on Irish adaptations and translations of Chekhov's plays. Her academic interests include Irish culture, literature and translation studies.

Gabriella Hartvig teaches eighteenth-century English and Anglo-Irish literature and reception studies at the Department of English Literatures and Cultures at the University of Pécs. Her publications include a monograph on the early Hungarian reception of Laurence Sterne (Budapest: Argumentum, 2000). She has also published essays in the journal The Shandean and contributed to the series ‘The Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe’ on the receptions of Sterne, Ossian, and Jonathan Swift.

Jerzy Jarniewicz is a Polish poet, translator and literary critic, who lectures in English at the universities of Łódź and Warsaw. He has published nine volumes of poetry, six critical books on ←251 | 252→contemporary British, Irish and American literature (most recently studies of Seamus Heaney and Philip Larkin), and has written extensively for various journals, including Poetry Review, Irish Review, Cambridge Review, and Krino.

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