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Daniel Corkery's Cultural Criticism: Selected Writings
Daniel Corkery's Cultural Criticism: Selected Writings

Our Price:39.00
Authors: Heather Laird
Affiliation: University College Cork
Publication Year: Hardback June 2012
Pages: 316
Size: 234 x 156mm

ISBN: 9781859184554


Daniel Corkery was the most influential and provocative cultural critic of the early Irish Free State. Since the 1960s, Corkery's name, however, has become increasingly synonymous with a narrow-gauge nationalism that, in the eyes of many, has sought to stifle an emerging 'modern' Ireland. This publication makes the case for a reassessment of Corkery's cultural criticism, and reveals that the commonplace depiction of a parochial and racist Corkery, while not entirely groundless, is based on a reading of his critical writings that is both selective and reductive. Corkery's cultural criticism is viewed in this book, not as the product of a backward-looking and insular nationalism, but as intellectual work within an international context of anti-colonialism.

This collection of Corkery's writings is a testimony to the sheer productivity of his eighty and more years. This book brings together oft-cited published material, that is no longer easily available, and unpublished manuscripts from the Corkery archive. The result is an edited collection that both reveals the central and recurring concerns of Corkery's critical writings, and offers a unique insight into his wide-ranging cultural interests. Included in the collection are key chapters from The Hidden Ireland and Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature, newspaper articles, literature reviews, a previously-unpublished essay and a radio broadcast. The book concludes with a selection of contemporary responses to Corkery's critical writings. This section of the book clearly indicates the strong reactions, both positive and negative, that his work originally elicited and allows the reader to situate Corkery within the intellectual debates of his day.

Heather Laird is a lecturer in the School of English, University College Cork

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4 of 5 Daniel Corkery's Cultural Criticism August 22, 2014
Reviewer: Patrick Maume from Ireland  
Heather Laird notes in her introduction to this useful volume that Daniel Corkery occupies an ambiguous place in Irish cultural history. Most surveys of the subject treat him as spokesman for a narrow definition of national identity, supplanted by modern pluralism; yet he is not simply ignored as other ultra-nationalists of his period (for example, Brian O'Higgins, Aodh de Blacam - who makes several appearances in this volume - or Fr Timothy Corcoran) are. Laird maintains that Corkery remains worth arguing with because he had interesting things to say; many of his concerns, from his schooldays to his last writings, are those of postcolonial writers struggling to find their own voices in relation to an imperial culture which ignored or denigrated their experiences and beliefs, and his advocacy of 'true' Irishness, in binary opposition to an absolutized British imperial culture, is a trap into which many such writers have fallen. (Such conflicts existed even within British culture; Corkery's naive claim that the English 'in their native land are anything but hard, cynical or reckless' (pp. 124-25) derives from 'little Englanders' like G.K. Chesterton (p. 165), who opposed a rural and religious 'real England' to a mainstream allegedly corrupted by cosmopolitan imperialism.)

Corkery's major texts are hard to come by. The Hidden Ireland, his much-debated 1924 study of the Gaelic poets of Munster, was last reprinted in the 1970s, and Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature, his 1931 manifesto on the problems facing Irish literature in English, has been out of print even longer. Heather Laird not only makes major portions of these texts available to students and scholars, but provides a selection of other critical writings previously scattered in journals or reposing in manuscript or typescript among the Corkery Papers in University College Cork.

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