The Irish Story

The Irish Story

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Description

Roy Foster is one of the leaders of the iconoclastic generation of Irish historians. In this opinionated, entertaining book he examines how the Irish have written, understood, used, and misused their history over the past century. Foster argues that, over the centuries, Irish experience itself has been turned into story. He examines how and why the key moments of Ireland's past--the 1798 Rising, the Famine, the Celtic Revival, Easter 1916, the Troubles--have been worked into narratives, drawing on Ireland's powerful oral culture, on elements of myth, folklore, ghost stories and romance. The result of this constant reinterpretation is a shifting "Story of Ireland," complete with plot, drama, suspense, and revelation. Varied, surprising, and funny, the interlinked essays in The Irish Story examine the stories that people tell each other in Ireland and why. Foster provides an unsparing view of the way Irish history is manipulated for political ends and that Irish poverty and oppression is sentimentalized and packaged. He offers incisive readings of writers from Standish O'Grady to Trollope and Bowen; dissects the Irish government's commemoration of the 1798 uprising; and bitingly critiques the memoirs of Gerry Adams and Frank McCourt. Fittingly, as the acclaimed biographer of Yeats, Foster explores the poet's complex understanding of the Irish story--"the mystery play of devils and angels which we call our national history"--and warns of the dangers of turning Ireland into a historical theme park. The Irish Story will be hailed by some, attacked by others, but for all who care about Irish history and literature, it will be essential reading.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 281 pages
  • 163.6 x 242.8 x 27.2mm | 616.9g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195159020
  • 9780195159028

Review quote

"Erudite and acerbic"--Kirkus Reviews"Foster is a formidably funny and exciting writer, and it is a joy to watch as he charmingly herds each sacred cow to the slaughter."--Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday"Interesting, suggestive, mostly urbane, sometimes scathing."--Wall Street Journal"Foster's superb portrait of the essayist Hubert Butler evokes an Irish Orwell; someone who for 60 years, at times reviled and at others ignored, spoke subtle, lucid truth.... Foster eviscerates what he sees as the cramping of the past in memoirs by Frank McCourt and Gerry Adams.... What Foster is really going after is not politics but a way of thinking and writing 'for an audience in search of reaffirmation rather than dislocation--or enlightenment.'... Style is Foster's touchstone for truth. His disdain for McCourt's and Adams's writing, and the tradition of tale-telling, is more than literary."--Richard Eder, New York Times Book Review"Roy Foster is one of the most elegant and probing writers on Irish topics and also one of the most controversial. In Ireland itself, where history matters, Foster attracts Cornel West-scale publicity. He's the leading figure in a generation of 'revisionist' historians who have chipped away at what they describe as Irish myths. American readers are about to get a fresh taste of his stiletto pen and icon-smashing habits when his latest book, 'The Irish Story' hits these shores."--Chris Shea, Boston Globe"The outpouring of literature from Ireland has ever been enormous, and nothing seems to stem it, or to reduce the excellence of the best of it. Occasionally, amid that plenitude there emerges a book that startles and provokes to the point of demanding extraordinary attention. Such a book is The Irish Story.... I can think of no book that more clearly, provocatively and intelligently delineates the important underlying contemporary truths of Ireland and the Irish than this insightful, courageous and splendid work."--Michael Pakenham, Baltimore Sun "Erudite and acerbic"--Kirkus Reviews"Foster is a formidably funny and exciting writer, and it is a joy to watch as he charmingly herds each sacred cow to the slaughter."--Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday"Interesting, suggestive, mostly urbane, sometimes scathing."--Wall Street Journal"Foster's superb portrait of the essayist Hubert Butler evokes an Irish Orwell; someone who for 60 years, at times reviled and at others ignored, spoke subtle, lucid truth.... Foster eviscerates what he sees as the cramping of the past in memoirs by Frank McCourt and Gerry Adams.... What Foster is really going after is not politics but a way of thinking and writing 'for an audience in search of reaffirmation rather than dislocation--or enlightenment.'... Style is Foster's touchstone for truth. His disdain for McCourt's and Adams's writing, and the tradition of tale-telling, is more than literary."--Richard Eder, New York Times Book Review"Roy Foster is one of the most elegant and probin "Erudite and acerbic"--Kirkus Reviews "Foster is a formidably funny and exciting writer, and it is a joy to watch as he charmingly herds each sacred cow to the slaughter."--Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday "Interesting, suggestive, mostly urbane, sometimes scathing."--Wall Street Journal "Foster's superb portrait of the essayist Hubert Butler evokes an Irish Orwell; someone who for 60 years, at times reviled and at others ignored, spoke subtle, lucid truth.... Foster eviscerates what he sees as the cramping of the past in memoirs by Frank McCourt and Gerry Adams.... What Foster is really going after is not politics but a way of thinking and writing 'for an audience in search of reaffirmation rather than dislocation--or enlightenment.'... Style is Foster's touchstone for truth. His disdain for McCourt's and Adams's writing, and the tradition of tale-telling, is more than literary."--Richard Eder, New York Times Book Review "Roy Foster is one of the most elegant and probing writers on Irish topics and also one of the most controversial. In Ireland itself, where history matters, Foster attracts Cornel West-scale publicity. He's the leading figure in a generation of 'revisionist' historians who have chipped away at what they describe as Irish myths. American readers are about to get a fresh taste of his stiletto pen and icon-smashing habits when his latest book, 'The Irish Story' hits these shores."--Chris Shea, Boston Globe "The outpouring of literature from Ireland has ever been enormous, and nothing seems to stem it, or to reduce the excellence of the best of it. Occasionally, amid that plenitude there emerges a book that startles and provokes to the point ofdemanding extraordinary attention. Such a book is The Irish Story.... I can think of no book that more clearly, provocatively and intelligently delineates the important underlying contemporary truths of Ireland and the Irish than this insightful, courageous and splendid work."--Michael Pakenham, Baltimore Sun "Erudite and acerbic"--Kirkus Reviews "Foster is a formidably funny and exciting writer, and it is a joy to watch as he charmingly herds each sacred cow to the slaughter."--Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday "Interesting, suggestive, mostly urbane, sometimes scathing."--Wall Street Journal "Foster's superb portrait of the essayist Hubert Butler evokes an Irish Orwell; someone who for 60 years, at times reviled and at others ignored, spoke subtle, lucid truth.... Foster eviscerates what he sees as the cramping of the past in memoirs by Frank McCourt and Gerry Adams.... What Foster is really going after is not politics but a way of thinking and writing 'for an audience in search of reaffirmation rather than dislocation--or enlightenment.'... Style is Foster's touchstone for truth. His disdain for McCourt's and Adams's writing, and the tradition of tale-telling, is more than literary."--Richard Eder, New York Times Book Review "Roy Foster is one of the most elegant and probing writers on Irish topics and also one of the most controversial. In Ireland itself, where history matters, Foster attracts Cornel West-scale publicity. He's the leading figure in a generation of 'revisionist' historians who have chipped away at what they describe as Irish myths. American readers are about to get a fresh taste of his stiletto pen and icon-smashing habits when his latest book, 'The Irish Story' hits these shores."--Chris Shea, Boston Globe "The outpouring of literature from Ireland has ever been enormous, and nothing seems to stem it, or to reduce the excellence of the best of it. Occasionally, amid that plenitude thereemerges a book that startles and provokes to the point of demanding extraordinary attention. Such a book is The Irish Story.... I can think of no book that more clearly, provocatively and intelligently delineates the important underlying contemporary truths of Ireland and the Irish than this insightful, courageous and splendid work."--Michael Pakenham, Baltimore Sun "Erudite and acerbic"--Kirkus Reviews"Foster is a formidably funny and exciting writer, and it is a joy to watch as he charmingly herds each sacred cow to the slaughter."--Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday"Interesting, suggestive, mostly urbane, sometimes scathing."--Wall Street Journal"Foster's superb portrait of the essayist Hubert Butler evokes an Irish Orwell; someone who for 60 years, at times reviled and at others ignored, spoke subtle, lucid truth.... Foster eviscerates what he sees as the cramping of the past in memoirs by Frank McCourt and Gerry Adams.... What Foster isreally going after is not politics but a way of thinking and writing 'for an audience in search of reaffirmation rather than dislocation--or enlightenment.'... Style is Foster's touchstone for truth. His disdain for McCourt's and Adams's writing, and the tradition of tale-telling, is more thanliterary."--Richard Eder, New York Times Book Review"Roy Foster is one of the most elegant and probing writers on Irish topics and also one of the most controversial. In Ireland itself, where history matters, Foster attracts Cornel West-scale publicity. He's the leading figure in a generation of 'revisionist' historians who have chipped away atwhat they describe as Irish myths. American readers are about to get a fresh taste of his stiletto pen and icon-smashing habits when his latest book, 'The Irish Story' hits these shores."--Chris Shea, Boston Globe"The outpouring of literature from Ireland has ever been enormous, and nothing seems to stem it, or to reduce the excellence of the best of it. Occasionally, amid that plenitude there emerges a book that startles and provokes to the point ofdemanding extraordinary attention. Such a book is TheIrish Story.... I can think of no book that more clearly, provocatively and intelligently delineates the important underlying contemporary truths of Ireland and the Irish than this insightful, courageous and splendid work."--Michael Pakenham, Baltimore Sunshow more

About Foster

Roy Foster is Professor of History and a Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford. He is the author of W. B. Yeats: The Apprentice Mage and Modern Ireland, and is the editor of The Oxford History of Ireland.show more

Rating details

56 ratings
3.57 out of 5 stars
5 20% (11)
4 30% (17)
3 38% (21)
2 12% (7)
1 0% (0)
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