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Writing Slums

Dublin, Dirt and Literature


Nils Beese

Dublin’s slums were once considered the worst in Europe. The city’s tenements were omnipresent and their inhabitants were plagued by poverty. Illuminating the intricate relationship between the «dirty» cityscape and Dublin literature from 1880 to 1920, this seminal book offers new socio-historical, cultural and political insights into one of the most interesting periods of Irish literature and history.

As well as delineating the characteristics of Dublin slum literature as a genre, the book challenges general assumptions about the Literary Revival as a mainly rural movement and discusses representations of slums in a variety of texts by «Alpha and Omega», James Connolly, Fannie Gallaher, May Laffan, Seumas O’Sullivan, Frederick Ryan, James Stephens, Katharine Tynan and many others. In addition, it reassesses W. B. Yeats’s and James Joyce’s literary genealogy in the context of the urban literary-historical discourse and analyses the impact of slums on their writing strategies. This work will be essential reading for scholars and students of Irish literature and cultural history.

CONTENTS: Dublin Slums: History, Discourse, and Theoretical Considerations – Pre-Revivalist Dublin Slum Fiction and Modernism – Yeats, Urbanity, and the Slums – Urban Revivalism – Joyce and the Slums – Outlook: Writing Slums and Beyond.