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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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Sam Slote Elvis Presley: The Sun King

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As Mojo Nixon sang as long ago as the late 1980s, ‘Elvis is everywhere, Elvis is everything, Elvis is everybody, Elvis is still the king’. Elvis does seem to have reached a kind of omnipresence, a perpetual background noise in our media-saturated world, and even, perhaps, the very epitome of fame. When John Lennon met David Bowie in 1975 to record the song ‘Fame’, Elvis was there, at least in the form of an Elvis badge Lennon wore. Enthusing in a more serious manner, the ever-ubiquitous pop culture critic Greil Marcus writes of Elvis’s unique status, Elvis Presley is a supreme figure in American life, one whose presence, no matter how banal or predictable, brooks no real comparisons. He is honored equally by long-haired rock critics, middle-aged women, the City of Memphis […], and even a president. […] Elvis has emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor of shlock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and, yes, a great American.1 Like Walt Whitman, another great American, Elvis contains multitudes. And it is not just Elvis who is multifarious, the community of his fans is likewise diverse and ecumenical. Fans range from Edison Peña, one of the trapped Chilean miners to Junichiro Koizumi, prime minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006 to Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, known to some as Debo Mitford, who is probably the only Elvis fan to have both had...

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