The era of the First World War represents one of the most turbulent and divisive periods in twentieth-century Irish history. The war is closely connected to the violent path to Irish independence from Britain and, for more than a century, it has brought the complexity of the issue of Irish identity into sharp focus. This study shows how the disparate literary responses of Irish authors to the war and its problematic legacy offer intriguing insights into different concepts of Irish identity, specifically those long buried within Irish national and historical consciousness. The late re-discovery of these identities in Irish writing reveals a modern nation trying to come to terms with its polarised past, seeking a more integrative sense of national self for the twenty-first century.
II.1 Theoretical Context
II.1.1 ‘Cultural Identity’, the Nation, Nationalism
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