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Ireland and the Czech Lands

Contacts and Comparisons in History and Culture

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Edited By Gerald Power and Ondrej Pilny

In recent years Irish scholars have become increasingly interested in Ireland’s profound and ongoing relationship with continental Europe. This volume is the first multidisciplinary collection of essays on Irish comparisons and contacts with the Czech Lands from the early modern period to contemporary times. Written by leading specialists and emerging scholars, the essays explore Irish-Czech exchanges and parallels in a variety of fields including history, politics, literature, theatre, journalism and physical education. Collectively, these essays demonstrate that Ireland and the Czech Lands have much in common and that they have enjoyed deep cultural connections: both countries are small European states with imperial pasts and a tradition of mutual migration and cultural transfer. Until now, however, Czech-Irish commonalities and connections have largely been overshadowed by both countries’ interactions with bigger, more powerful nations. This book remedies this neglect, offering new research which not only sheds light on Irish-Czech connections and contacts, but also offers new perspectives on the positions of both societies within the wider European context.

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Justin Quinn California Dreaming: Miroslav Holub and Seamus Heaney

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* 1 What framework allows us to understand the links between a Czech poet and an Irish poet? The two literatures have been nationalistic in their own conception for almost two centuries, and the terms of such criticism allow foreign material a place only insofar as it furthers the national narrative. In the last few decades, scholars have learned to read Irish literature in post- colonial terms, as it is conceived and analysed through its relationship with England. However, post-colonial theory is now morphing into transnation- alism, and the model of relations (cultural and political) between imperial centre and colonial periphery now seems unusable. We are left with a literary critical practice that is, in the words of the authors of Minor Transnationalism, ‘less scripted and more scattered’,1 with attendant methodological dif ficulties. How can we set parameters and procedures for such inquiry? Most of the best theoretical work in this * Academic essays tend not to carry dedications, but I would like to express my dis- appointment that I cannot show this to Dennis O’Driscoll, who died in 2012. We had animated conversations about Holub, about whom we disagreed, and Heaney, about whom we agreed. Thanks to Petr Onufer who helped me to track down Jan Zábrana’s translations, and to Jan Šulc who set me right on several issues regard- ing Czech poetry in the 1950s. I am also very grateful to Magdalena Kay and Neil Corcoran who commented on an earlier version of the essay. Where not otherwise...

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