The Child as Emblem of the Nation in Twentieth-Century Irish Literature

Price:$239.95 + shipping
(Click the PayPal button to buy)
The Irish literary child has its nascence in earliest Celtic mythology and flourishes as an emblem of the Irish nation throughout Irish literature to the present day. This book concentrates on the development of this symbolic figure in twentieth century Irish poetry and prose and juxtaposes the figure of the literary child at any given point in the century with political and social conditions of Ireland at the time. The result of this pairing over the course of the century is the revelation of the paradigmatic nature of the child in Irish literature. As the nature of and challenges before this child evolve in literature, so does the nation of Ireland.


“In 1995 Declan Kiberd published Inventing Ireland and set an agenda for Irish Studies that persists to the present. The purpose of Irish Studies is to understand the acts of self-creation, the autogenesis, if you will, of the Irish in the twentieth century. Dr. Barbara Young’s study follows closely upon Kiberd’s work and focuses on a prominent, and perhaps dominant, characteristic of Irish self-creation. The scope of her study of the trope of the literary child in modern Irish literature is impressive after tracing the origins of the literary child from early Irish literature through its most famous incarnation in the eighteenth century in Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal,’ Dr. Young discusses its uses as a primary trope of twentieth century Irish literature ...This study is thus a step toward the kind of Irish Studies that Kiberd calls for in the last chapter of Inventing Ireland – a discipline that examines the resemblances between Irish culture and other cultures. Dr. Young’s postcolonial exegesis is a solid contribution toward that end.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Edward A. Hagan, Western Connecticut State University

“ ... For many Irish novelists, playwrights, and poets, writing has been an act of coming to terms with an impoverished past, with religious and political nemeses, with dysfunctional families (themselves often the victims of deprivation), with intellectual and sexual repressions, and with social and economic upheaval. At the center of this crucible has been the literary child, whose efforts to negotiate a complex, confusing, and sometimes chaotic Ireland have made childhood anything but idyllic. As Dr. Young explains in this scholarly and illuminating study, the tribulations of Ireland’s literary children are emblematic of the nation’s troubles ... Meticulously researched and carefully written, her discussion offers a thoughtful perspective on modern Irish literature, one that will undoubtedly add to our understanding of this rich and complex body of work.” – Professor Richard A. Conway, Nassau Community College

“Dr. Young writes beautifully and her prose is clear and easy to follow, which from the start sets this book ahead of so many in literary criticism. Because of this, I found myself wanting repeatedly to hear more of her voice, whether in being told what to make of the quoted critics, reading fewer of their words and more of hers, or having more reading/analysis that explication of the authors she examines ... This book makes a worthwhile contribution to Irish Studies and to literary criticism in general ...” – Professor Mary McGlynn, Baruch College

Table of Contents

Foreword by Edward A. Hagan
1. The Celtic Renaissance: A Convergence of Politics and Myth
2. Molding the Nationalistic Model: Padraic Pearse and William Butler Yeats
3. Joyce’s Powerless Children
4. Self-Description, Delineation, and Censorship
5. The Child Comes of Age: “The Troubles,” Social Upheaval and Technology
6. Four Voices for the Child: Seamus Heaney, Roddy Doyle, Patrick McCabe, Eavan Boland

Other Children/Childhood Studies Books