Saint Patrick’s Day is on the 17th March, which means its time to analyze the very best of Irish literature! Some of these books are either set in Ireland or written by Irish authors. Celebrate Ireland’s diverse literature with the following works of literature:
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
“Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.”Gulliver’s Travels
Swift’s tale is a classic in both the satire and travel genres. Brilliant in its use of the English language, Gulliver’s Travels is widely considered to be Swifts masterpiece. Written from the perspective of a sea captain and surgeon, Swift takes the reader on a journey that examines politics, society and faith. What’s admirable about Swift is that he never holds back from his gripping analysis. Centuries later, Gulliver’s Travels is enjoyed and admired by a variety of readers.
Belinda by Maria Edgeworth
“It is sometimes fortunate, that the means which are taken to produce certain effects upon the mind have a tendency directly opposite to what is expected.”Belinda
Admired by literary heavyweights such as Jane Austen, Edgeworth is known for striking controversy for her depiction of an interracial marriage. Seen as a figurehead for the “society novel”, Belinda deserves to be discussed and read. With family angst, themes of innocence and a playful attitude towards morality- Belinda is a gem of a novel. It’s witty, clever and perceptive.
The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”The Picture Of Dorian Gray
Gothic and philosophical, Oscar Wilde cemented his role in literary horror with his only novel. As the protagonist Dorian falls in love with his portrait- Wilde plays with allusions to Faust, Plato and Shakespeare. The end result is a work of genius. It’s seductive, disturbing and absolutely brilliant. Clearly one of the best takes on vanity and culture, and a must-read for all lovers of literature.
A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce
“I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use — silence, exile, and cunning.”A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man
The controversial Ulysses by Joyce may garner more attention, but Joyce’s flirtation with autobiography and Greek mythology is unforgettable and gripping. A highlight of modernist literature, Joyce writes with sophistication and confidence. The fusion of third-person narration and free indirect speech is both interesting and compelling. With themes and ideas of questioning society and ideals- this short novel will appeal to those who know what it is like to never quite fit in.
Eva Trout by Elizabeth Bowen
“What made Eva visualise this as a marriage chamber? As its climate intensified, all grew tender. To repose a hand on the blanket covering Elsinore was to know in the palm of the hand a primitive tremor—imagining the beating of that other heart, she had passionately solicitous sense of this other presence. Nothing forbad love. This deathly yet living stillness, together, of two beings, this unapartness, came to be the requital of all longing.”Eva Trout
Bowen’s Eva Trout was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, depicts a woman who comes into possession of great wealth. As our heroine, Eva, wrestles with doubt, communication problems and social awkwardness. However, as the novel progresses we are invited to witness her depth, her complexity and her strengths. Eva Trout works as not just as a work of literature, but as an active critique on society and the sexual frameworks that define it. Eva Trout is an example of brave literature that is unafraid to tackle existentialism and authenticity.
Murphy by Samuel Beckett
“But how much more pleasant was the sensation of being a missile without provenance or target, caught up in a tumult of non-Newtonian motion. So pleasant that pleasant was not the word.”Murphy
Beckett is of course, a staple in any discussion regarding Irish literature. Whether it’s the plays he wrote or his fantastic poetry, Beckett is remembered for his distinct voice and rare ability to master multiple languages when it comes to writing literature. In Murphy, Beckett’s linguistic skills are on full display. As we progress through London streets, this avant-garde story toys with our expectations. With an advanced understanding of chess, and the psychological games we play with ourselves and others. With Beckett’s work, we do not merely consume his stories but reflect introspectively. A prime example of how literature can affect and move us.
What are your favourite novels from Irish writers? Let us know in the comments below! Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.
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