Recent Irish Fiction with Rhoda Flaxman (in person)
Five Tuesdays from 3-5 p.m. on April 18, 25, May 2, 9, 16 at the Wellfleet Preservation Hall.
Class limited to 25 participants.
Sterne, Swift, Stoker, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Heaney! How do 20C. Irish writers stack up against the iconic tradition of earlier Irish writers? In addition, what is it about Ireland that inspires and nurtures some of the world’s greatest writers? Is it that a literary tradition flourishes in cultures where older, usually oral forms are met head-on by the challenge of modernization? Living on the cusp between tradition and modernity in a formerly oral culture may help us account for the outsized production of excellence in Irish writers today.
This semester we will explore these questions and others as we read and discuss recent novels and short stories from Ireland. Starting with a session on the poetry of Yeats and Heaney, we’ll read short novels by Banville (“The Sea”) and Claire Keegan (“Foster” and “Small Things Like These”), as well as a variety of short fiction by important writers such as Edna O’Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, Frank O’Connor, Colm Toibin, Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, and Hilary Mantel.
This literature course will advance according to a combination of mini-lectures to set the context and discussions directed by questions to be sent before every class. As always, my overriding question will be: how do writers make art from life?
Participants may choose to enroll either in the zoom class ( Mondays 3-5) or the class in person (Tuesday 3-5). Each class will be limited to 25 participants.
“The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story,” ed. Anne Enright (Granta, 2010).
John Banville, “The Sea” (Vintage, 2006).
Claire Keegan, “Foster” (Grove Press, 2022).
‘ “ , “Small Things Like These” (Grove Press, 2021).
Yeats and Heaney poems can be accessed on-line.
Highly-recommended background reading: “We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland,” by Fintan O’Toole (W.W.Norton, 2023).