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Beautiful Strangers

Ireland and the World of the 1950s

Series:

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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Terence Brown Afterword

Extract

Like Thomas Kilroy – whose essay is the first in a series in this book that opens fascinating windows on a decade which has recently begun to attract the interest of scholarship here in Ireland – I too was a child of the Second World War. And I remember as I was growing up how my parents and their friends would often speak of ‘before the war’, ‘during the war’, ‘after the war’, bearing witness in the habits of daily speech to the fact that their sense of reality had been defined by the cataclysm they had come through. My own birth in Janaury 1944 meant that I came to consciousness and spent my childhood and teen years during the period covered in this volume. ‘After the war the world began to see itself as having survived, obliged to confront what humanity now suspected about itself (as Beckett’s bleak drama, mov- ingly addressed here by Nicholas Grene, insisted it must do), but equally obliged to ‘go on’. And this book in its varying ways tells us interesting things about those ‘goings on’, from the empirically-minded verse-makers of the Movement poets in Engand, to Science Fiction in America. What was something of a shock to me, however, as I read this collec- tion, was how little I had known about any of these when they were actually taking place, although when the decade ended I had reached the advanced age of 16 and was already an A-level student of English literature at the...

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