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Beautiful Strangers

Ireland and the World of the 1950s

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Edited By Gerald Dawe, Darryl Jones and Nora Pelizzari

This groundbreaking collection examines popular and literary culture in the 1950s through the lens of postwar Ireland. The 1950s are at once a site of cultural nostalgia and of vital relevance to twenty-first-century readers. The diverse essays collected here offer insight into the artistic effects of austerity on both creators and consumers of 1950s culture, examining cultural production in Britain and the United States as well as Ireland. The first book of its kind, it blends critical analysis with cultural memory of a unique time in the history of Irish literature and the broader world. From Samuel Beckett to Elvis Presley and Movement poetry to bestselling science fiction, this volume highlights the crucial role Ireland played in the growth of literary and popular culture throughout this fascinating decade and beyond.

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Nicholas Grene Samuel Beckett: Waiting for the End

Extract

In January 1953, an obscure Irish writer had his first play produced in a small fringe theatre in Paris. The author had published one book of short stories and a novel in English before the war but they had not made much impact. Living in France, he had begun to write in French after the war was over, and had produced a substantial body of fiction. After numerous rejec- tions, he had at last managed to get two of his novels in French published and they had received admiring reviews by inf luential Parisian critics of the time. But he would still have been entirely unknown outside a small circle of readers of avant-garde literature. He had no particular ambitions to be a playwright; he had written his play very quickly, in little more than two months, as he said himself, to get away from the ‘awful prose’ he was writing at the time. But by the persistent ef forts of his French partner, a director had been found willing to put on the play; because it was a new play in French it had been possible to secure a government grant to sup- port its production. And after much searching, the director found a thea- tre willing to stage it. The little Théâtre de Babylone was a converted shop with a stage just eighteen feet by twelve that held an audience of 230. The owner had resigned himself to the theatre having to go out of business and,...

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