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Echoes of the Rebellion

The Year 1798 in Twentieth-Century Irish Fiction and Drama


Radvan Markus

The 1798 Rebellion, a watershed event in Irish history, has been a source of both inspiration and controversy over the last two centuries and continues to provoke debate up to the present day. The ongoing discussion about the meaning of the Rebellion has not been limited to history books, but has also found vivid expression in Irish fiction and theatre.
The product of extensive research, this study provides a comprehensive survey of historical novels and plays published on the topic throughout the twentieth century, comparing them with relevant historiography. It draws attention to a number of outstanding but often neglected literary works, bringing together materials written in both English and Irish. Employing important theoretical concepts such as Derrida’s ‘spectre’ and Hayden White’s tropological view of history, the book probes the relationship between historiography and fiction to shed light on their interplay in the Irish context, including the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. This investigation illuminates a number of broader questions, including the most pressing of all: in what way should we deal with the ‘spectres’ of the past and their complex legacies?
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The completion of this work would not have been possible without the help of many. First and foremost I would like to express immense gratitude to my wife Jana and all of my family, without whose constant support and tolerance a time-consuming project such as this would not have been possible. My heartfelt thanks go to my friend and colleague Ondřej Pilný, who read earlier versions of this work and made many helpful suggestions. Valuable support and advice were also generously provided by a number of scholars in the fields of history, literature and Irish Studies, including Louis Armand, Louis de Paor, Marianne Elliott, Roy Foster, Zdeněk Hrbata, Joep Leerssen, Mícheál Mac Craith, Síle Ní Bhroin, Éamon Ó Ciosáin, Ken Ó Donnchú, Pádraig Ó Liatháin, Martin Procházka and Jim Shanahan. My very special thanks go to Kateřina García, Michaela Marková and Ken Ó Donnchú for helping me to get hold of many materials necessary for my research. I am also greatly indebted to Eamon Maher, Christabel Scaife and Matthew Sweney for their diligent work towards the production of this volume. The responsibility for any errors in the present study, however, falls entirely on my head.

Earlier versions of parts of this book have appeared in the following articles and essays: ‘“The Half-Built, Half-Derelict House”: Interpretation of the 1798 Rebellion in Stewart Parker’s Northern Star’, in K. Jenčová, M. Marková, R. Markus and H. Pavelková, eds, The Politics of...

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