With five Nobel Prize-winners, seven Pulitzer Prize-winners and two Booker Prize-winning novelists, it could be argued that modern Irish writing has contributed something special and permanent to our understanding of the twentieth century.
Irish Writing in the Twentieth Century is designed to provide within a single volume a useful comprehensive and pleasurable introduction to the subject. The construction of the Reader has incorporated the results of wide consultation among teachers and academics involved in the study and teaching of Irish literature. It is organised chronologically by decade, and within each decade divided into two segments: critical and documentary writing, and imaginative writing.
The Reader takes as its starting point the view that writing embraces not only the major forms of drama, fiction and verse but also other forms of writing such as life writing, criticism, interviews, travel writing, cultural critiques, sociological description, journalism, lectures, radio talks, prison writings, war chronicles, reflective prose, and obituaries.
David Pierce has selected major literary figures (such as Yeats, Joyce and Beckett) as well as neglected or under-appreciated writers, and included writers from the Irish diaspora. The range of material in the Reader is enormous, and ensures that work which is either difficult to find or out of print is easily available.
As a core text the Reader is designed to be sufficiently varied and capacious for students to survey something of the field, and at the same time it supplies in a single volume a focus for detailed study. It is also a workbook and a resource tool for student use including, essays on the song tradition and the Irish language, suggestions for writing and research, and a bibliography.