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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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‘So much depends on a TV appearance’: Popular and Performative Aspects of the Poetry of Brendan Kennelly



The popularity and visibility of Brendan Kennelly as a readily recognizable Irish poet can be viewed in both a positive and a negative light. On the one hand, many people applaud his anti-elitism and populist approach to poetry and his ability to communicate with an audience at readings and in academic lectures. His capacity as a communicator famously extends to the mass media, including TV, and a recent newspaper review of The Essential Brendan Kennelly (2011) notes that:

people approach him because they have the illusion of knowing him, even if that illusory knowledge has been largely based on his many Late Late Show appearances down the years, where he came across as a cuddly Celtic sage, and on the endearingly daft television ads he did for Toyota – daft because he didn’t drive and endearing … well, because he was Brendan.1

As a poet, he enjoys a ‘recognition factor’ higher than most even if that recognition is not exclusively based on a reading of his poems.

← 169 | 170 → The negative side of Kennelly’s visibility has been well-rehearsed by critics and commentators. The central charge is that he is too prolific, that he lacks an ability to edit himself and therefore allows casual or under-developed poems to be published. The assumption here is that his popularity is a personal one which is not merited by the formal accomplishments of his published poetry. The implication of the recent selection The Essential Brendan...

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