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France and Ireland in the Public Imagination


Edited By Benjamin Keatinge and Mary Pierse

This engaging collection of essays considers the cultural complexities of the Franco-Irish relationship in song and story, image and cuisine, novels, paintings and poetry. It casts a fresh eye on public perceptions of the historic bonds between Ireland and France, revealing a rich variety of contact and influence. Controversy is not shirked, whether on the subject of Irish economic decline or reflecting on prominent, contentious personalities such as Ian Paisley and Michel Houellebecq. Contrasting ideas of the popular and the intellectual emerge in a study of Brendan Kennelly; recent Irish tribunals are analysed in the light of French cultural theory; and familiar renditions of Franco-Irish links are re-evaluated against the evidence of newspaper and journal accounts.
Drawing on the disciplines of history, art, economics and literature, and dipping into the good wines of France and Ireland, the book paints a fascinating picture of the relationship between the two countries over three dramatic centuries.
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Seeing France: Varying Irish Perceptions at the Fin de Siècle


In 1900, and in the decades immediately surrounding that year, the unresolved and sharply-contested states of Ireland and ‘Irishness’ can only have resulted in marked diversity of opinion and influence, and in a multiplicity, complexity and fluidity of viewpoints on any subject. Within the various societal groupings in a population of 4.5 million people, perceptions of France and the French must perforce be equally varied and numerous. Through focus on a selection of disparate elements that fed contemporary perceptions, this essay will suggest that it would be simplistic and erroneous to accept reductive summaries or over-simplified versions of attitudes when surveying Irish views of France at the fin de siècle.

An important consideration in treating the notion of perception is to acknowledge its different stages of construction and processing: its shaping by learning, by memory, and by expectation, whether on the part of individuals or of communities; the initial and subsequent organization and interpretation of information derived from all of those sources. Since much of that assimilation and formation occurs outside conscious awareness, the ultimate standpoints may not always depend on logic, nor might they, at all times, be neatly and easily verbalized. Hence, to identify actual or possible versions of Irish verdicts concerning France in the period around the fin de siècle, a wide selection of potential influences must be considered in the search for the diverse elements that fashion such stances. Those ingredients will be found in popular history, in the education...

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