The Literary Imagination in a Hyphenated Culture
Julian Moynahan


In their day, the Anglo-Irish were the ascendant minority--Protestant, loyalist, privileged landholders in a recumbent, rural, and Catholic land. Their world is vanished, but shades of the Anglo-Irish linger in the big-house estates of Ireland and in the imaginative writings of this realm. In this first comprehensive study of their literature, Julian Moynahan rediscovers the unity of their greatest writings, from Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent through Yeats's poetry to Bowen's The Last September and Samuel Beckett's Watt. Throughout he challenges postcolonial assumptions, arguing that the Anglo-Irish since 1800 were indelibly Irish, not mere colonial servants of Imperial Britain. Moynahan begins in 1800 with the Act of Union, when the Anglo-Irish become Irish. Just as the fortunes of this community begin to wane, its literary power unfolds. The Anglo-Irish produce a haunting, memorable body of writings that explore a unique yet always Irish identity and destiny. Moynahan's exploration of the literature reveals women writers--Maria Edgeworth, Edith Somerville, Martin Ross, and Elizabeth Bowen--as a generative and major force in the development of this literary imagination. Along the way, he attends closely to the Gothic and to the mystery writing of C. R. Maturin and J. S. Le Fanu, and provides in-depth revaluations of William Carleton and Charles Lever.

First published in 1995.

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