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The Irish Story

Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland

The Irish Story by R. F Foster
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This engaging collection of 12 essays challenges what the author calls the penchant of the Irish to use overly simplistic techniques, such as nostalgia and cliche, as a means of understanding their history. Skewering Ireland's writers, historians and its popular culture alike, Foster, a history professor at Oxford and a biographer of W.B. Yeats, takes aim at the "popularization of history...which has more to do with packaging and marketing." By emphasizing a romanticized mythology of Ireland, the writer maintains, storytellers sanitize the complexities of the Irish experience and accentuate "victimhood and tyranny." Frank McCourt and Gerry Adams are two memoirists whom Foster unflinchingly targets for their soggy and formulaic notions of Ireland. "Both...turn Irish childhoods to very particular purposes and both exemplify narratives skewed through selective 'evidence' and a manoeuvred memory." On the other hand, Foster is quick to praise writers such as Elizabeth Bowen and Hubert Butler for their idiosyncratic voices.
Oxford University Press; October 2006
303 pages; ISBN 9780198036074
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Title: The Irish Story
Author: R. F Foster
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