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Literary and Cultural Relations

Ireland, Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe


Edited By Maria Kurdi

The lively, informative and incisive collection of essays sheds fascinating new light on the literary interrelations between Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic. It charts a hitherto under-explored history of the reception of modern Irish culture in Central and Eastern Europe and also investigates how key authors have been translated, performed, and adapted. The work of Jonathan Swift, John Millington Synge, Flann O'Brien, Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and Martin McDonagh, it is indicated, has particularly inspired writers, directors, and translators. The searching analyses presented here illuminatingly reflect on the far-reaching political and social import of multicultural exchange. It is shown to be a process that is at best mutually defining and that raises questions about received forms of identity, the semiotics of genre and the possibilities and limits of linguistic translation. In addition, the histories compiled here of critical commentary on Irish literature in Hungary or of the staging of contemporary Irish plays in Hungary and in the Czech Republic, for example, uncover the haphazardness of intercultural exchange and the extent to which it is vulnerable to political ideology, social fashion, and the vagaries of state funding. The revealing explorations undertaken in this volume of a wide array of Irish dramatic and literary texts, ranging from Gulliver's Travels to Translations and The Pillowman, tease out the subtly altered nuances that they acquire in a Central European context. By the same token, it is demonstrated that Ireland has been changed by the recent migration of workers from Eastern Europe and that consequently projections of the figure of the emigrant or asylum seeker in current drama warrant scrutiny. This original and combative collection demonstrates, not only that literary exchange between Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Ireland has been prolonged, multifaceted and, above all, enriching, but also that it exposes blind-spots, and forces confrontation with issues of racism, failure of empathy and cultural misprision.

Mária Kurdi is professor emerita in the Institute of English Studies at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Her main research areas are modern Irish literature, English-speaking drama and comparative studies. So far she has published six books in these areas and edited or co-edited several essay collections. Her own books include Codes and Masks (Peter Lang, 2000), Representations of Gender and Female Subjectivity in Contemporary Irish Drama by Women (Edwin Mellen Press, 2010) and Approaches to Irish Theatre through a Hungarian’s Lens: Essays and Review Articles (Pécs: University Pécs, Institute of English Studies, 2018). Her edited volumes include Literary and Cultural Relations: Ireland, Hungary, and Central and Eastern Europe and Radical Contemporary Theatre Practices by Women in Ireland (co-edited with Miriam Haughton), published by Carysfort Press of Dublin in 2009 and 2015 respectively. Mária Kurdi also publishes scholarly articles in both English and Hungarian journals and essay collections regularly. Currently she is working on several projects, including a themed block of essays dealing with aging and ageism in literature and theatre for the spring 2020 issue of Hungarian Journal of English Literary and Cultural Studies as well as a collection of essays The Theatre of Deirdre Kinahan co-edited with Lisa Fitzpatrick, to be published by Peter Lang and Carysfort Press in 2021.