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France and Ireland

Notes and Narratives


Edited By Una Hunt and Mary Pierse

The rich association between Ireland and France is embodied in music, art and creative writing from both countries and this collection provides a tantalising selection of these interweaving influences. The book presents a vivid picture of interactions between composers, performers, poets and novelists on each side of the Celtic Sea. Surprises abound, with music unexpectedly linking Ireland and France through George Alexander Osborne and Frédéric Chopin, through Thomas Moore and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, through Irish-inspired French opera and a French-directed Irish orchestra. Words and music meet in a Kate O'Brien novel, a musical interpretation of Verlaine and a selection of Paula Meehan's poetry, while the encounter between wine and music creates new possibilities for artistic and cultural expression. Exploring the works and influence of a wide range of figures including James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Jacques Derrida, J.M. Synge, Hélène Cixous, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Hector Berlioz, Maurice Ravel, Neil Jordan and John Field, the essays collected here uncover a wealth of artistic interconnections between France and Ireland.
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This collection of essays presents a beguiling selection of themes and variations, all unfolding through multiple notes and narratives. The notes are musical, literary, historical and sensory; the narratives progress through music, picture, prose, poetry and good wine. The wide variety of topic and treatment delivers unusual nuggets and affords insights and opportunities for enhanced appreciation and understanding of art and life, both French and Irish. A feature of the volume is that reciprocal influences are recognised in contributions to literary accounts, musical composition and performance, to social mores and the psychology of consumption. There is an underlying purpose to the approach: rather than embrace Brunelleschi’s perspectiva artificialis1 with the inherent deficiencies that arise from concentrated focus on a narrow field, these chapters seek to furnish multi-dimensional pictures wherein Cartesian certainty and limits are rejected in favour of expanded horizons and productive linkages. The intention here is to introduce external disciplinary interpretation into topics, and to highlight the effects, thereby revealing how this results in additional layers of understanding, gives meaningful colour and texture, and avoids the limitations of frozen portraiture and fixed-angle viewpoints.

While examples of ‘correspondences’ between the arts were reflected in the titles of nineteenth-century paintings such as ‘Symphony in White No.3’,2 in Théophile Gautier’s 1852 poem ‘Symphonie en blanc majeur’, and ← 1 | 2 → in the musicality of Stéphane Mallarmé’s avant-garde poem L’après-midi d’un faune3 such associations have sometimes been regarded merely as interesting engagements typical of a...

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