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The Aran Islands in Anglo-Irish and Irish Literature

A Literary History and Selected Studies


Andrea Maria Mayr

Though located in the topographical periphery of Ireland, the Aran Islands have been central for the construction of an Irish identity. For the scholars and writers involved in this process, Aran was used as a projection space for various desires – political, cultural and linguistic. This book maps the formation and development of a myth of place and analyses what functions it fulfilled at different stages in Irish history. The first literary history of Aran surveys an extensive compilation of texts and provides larger historical and cultural contexts. On this basis, five in-depth studies of works by Emily Lawless, John Synge, James Joyce, Liam O’Flaherty and Máirtín Ó Direáin unravel discourses and textual strategies employed in the representation of the Aran Islands.
Contents: A non-literary perspective on Aran: Geology and cultural landscape – Political and socio-cultural history – Past and present aspects of Aran life – A literary history of the Aran Islands: Scholarly and literary representations of Aran from early 19th century to the present – Scholarly and ethnological investigations – Literary tourists and travellers – Fin-de-siècle Aran and the Irish literary revival – Aran in early 20th century literature – The first generation of Island writers – Robert Flaherty’s film Man of Aran – Aran literature from the 1930s to the 1980s – A Northern Irish perspective on Aran – Aran literature from the 1990s to the present – A contemporary outlook on Aran – Five selected studies: Emily Lawless’s Grania - John Millington Synge’s The Aran Islands - James Joyce’s «The Dead» - Liam O’Flaherty’s Thy Neighbour’s Wife - Máirtín Ó Direáin’s Aran poetry – Images and discourses in the representation of the Aran Islands.