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Ironies of Art/Tragedies of Life

Essays on Irish Literature


Liliana Sikorska

In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates says that the true poet must be tragic and comic at the same time, and the whole of human life must be felt as a blend of tragedy and comedy. The present collection of essays investigates the presence of comic and tragic elements in Irish literature. The works by Irish authors, be they classical or contemporary, capture the struggles of the lives of individuals and communities in Ireland. Irish literature in various ways deals with the tragic and complex past of the country, as well as an equally interesting present. The irony of the art is always subliminally filled with tragic overtones. Irish literature most commonly presents life’s ironies as inseparably linked with the personal tragedies of the characters. In literature, life is sometimes described, sometimes reflected in a distorted mirror. In reality, just as Plato claims, Irish literature appears as a blend of tragedy and comedy.
Contents: Anna Warmuz: Between Heaven and Hell - a quest for purification in Saint Patrick’s Purgatory – Joanna Maciulewicz: Dialogic encounter of cultures in Castle Rackrent and The absentee by Maria Edgeworth and The wild Irish girl by Lady Morgan – Anthony Cronin: James Joyce: The advent of Bloom – Liliana Sikorska: Medievalism and its discontents. Religious community(ies) in Mervyn Wall’s Fursey novels – Michael Smith: The Irishness of Samuel Beckett – Agnieszka Setecka: «The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth». Sheridan Le Fanu’s Uncle Silas and John Banville’s The book of evidence: Two narratives of crime – Sławomir Konkol: Per aspera ad astra - the tragicomedy of John Banville’s Kepler – Ryszard Bartnik: The comic and the tragic in the drama of Irish belonging in Frank McCourt’s and Dermot Healy’s autobiographies – Izabela Krystek: Looking for the self: Dermot Healy’s A goat’s song as a modern tragedy of indecision – Dagmara Krzyżaniak: A disturbed family in a troubled country. A sociolinguistic insight into the domestic/national crisis in the works of two Irish playwrights: Sean O’Casey and Martin McDonaugh – Paul Durcan: Anthony Cronin’s The end of the modern world – Martin Dolan: Anthony Cronin’s vision of history in The end of the modern world – Łukasz Szpunar: «The modern has betrayed us». Intoxication and disillusionment with civilization in Anthony Cronin’s The end of the modern world – Joanna Bukowska: Irish topography of a disturbed mind in Seamus Heaney’s Sweeney astray and Trevor Joyce’s The poems of Sweeny, Peregrine – Jerzy Jarniewicz: Home, displacement, and depravation in Michael Longley’s «Ghetto» – Katarzyna Poloczek: Ironies of language and signs of existence in contemporary Irish women’s poetry: Sinéad Morrissey’s Between here and there, Paula Meehan’s Dharmakaya and Eavan Boland’s Code.