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Out of History

Essays on the Writings of Sebastian Barry


Mahony Christina Hunt

Out of History is the first book to appear on the work of award-winning Irish author Sebastian Barry. Barry began publishing at the early age of 25, and his work represents another 25 years of short stories, poems, works for children, and most notably plays and novels. His play The Steward of Christendom became canonical in Ireland on its first appearance in 1995 and was absorbed into the contemporary repertoire abroad. His recent novel A Long Long Way has received the utmost critical attention and was nominated for the Man-Booker prize in London.
Barry is recognized as one of Ireland’s greatest living writers and his works now appear regularly on syllabuses in U.S. colleges in Irish Studies and in Drama departments. This book, edited by Christina Hunt Mahony, presents twelve essays that trace the development of the writer’s career and the individual achievement of his works, concentrating largely, but not exclusively, on the plays. The essays address Barry’s engagement with the contemporary cultural debate in Ireland and also with issues that inform postcolonial critical theory.
The essays in this volume include contributions from the most prominent of Irish Studies critics from Ireland, Britain, and the United States. Among the contributors are two prize-winning novelists, a historian and recent biographer of the poet W.B. Yeats, a former editor of Poetry Ireland, and several theatre historians and critics. The range and selection of contributors to this volume has ensured a high level of critical expression and an insightful assessment of Barry and his works.
Contents: Christina Hunt Mahony: Introduction – Peter Denman: From Rhetoric to Narrative: The Poems of Sebastian Barry – Éilís Ní Dhuibhne: Transcending Genre: Sebastian Barry’s Juvenile Fiction – Bruce Stewart: ‘To have a father is always big news’: Theme and Structure in The Big Engine of Owl-Light – David Cregan: ‘Everyman’s story is the whisper of God’: Sacred and Secular in Barry’s Dramaturgy – Christina Hunt Mahony: Children of the Light amid the ‘risky dancers’: Barry’s Naïfs and the Poetry of Humanism – John Wilson Foster: ‘All the long traditions’: Loyalty and Service in Barry and Ishiguro – Elizabeth Butler Cullingford: Colonial Policing: The Stewart of Christendom and The Whereabouts of Eneas McNultry – Anthony Roche: Redressing the Irish Theatrical Landscape: Sebastian Barry’s The Only True History of Lizzie Finn – Nicholas Grene: Out of History: from The Steward of Christendom to Annie Dunne – Roy Foster: ‘Something of us will remain’: Sebastian Barry and Irish History – Colm Tóibín: Hinterland. The Public Becomes Private – Claire Gleitman: ‘In the dark margins of things’: Whistling Psyche and the Illness of Empire.