This wide-ranging book surveys the landscape of the Irish novel from the Act of Union to the end of the Edwardian era. From Maria Edgeworth's satire to Bernard Shaw's subversiveness, from the hauntings of C.R. Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer to those of Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray, from national tale to novel of ideas, thirty representative works are selected for fluent and accessible discussion. Focusing on the problematic condition of the protagonist, each discussion combines close reading with considerations of such broader thematic and conceptual issues as identities, contexts, genres and language. An insightful introduction underlines these issues' significance, and a further understanding of that is provided by noting their various iterations over the whole range of novels selected. Discussion of each individual work is prefaced by a biographical and critical overview of its authors. These, together with an extensive bibliography, also make this work a convenient reference tool both for students and general readers.
The work's originality and diversity is further enriched by its reconfiguration of the nineteenth-century Irish novel's canon. Neglected works are critically assessed, some for the first time. Fictional views of Ireland by English writers including Thackeray and Trollope is evaluated, a departure which also opens up new lines of inquiry into nineteenth-century Anglo-Irish literary relations. The relevance to Irish literary culture of works with English settings by expatriate Irish writers such as Charlotte Riddell, George Moore, Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker is also critically explored.
A sophisticated introduction for students, a guide for the general reader, a contribution to expanding scholarly interest in the field, The Irish Novel 1800-1910 is freshly written, critically incisive and historically informative – a stimulating and instructive resource that expands the horizon of Ireland's complex literary heritage.