By Oona Frawley
Spanning anonymous eighth century poems to the writing of contemporary authors like Seamus Heaney and Eaven Boland, Irish literature has consistently engaged with nature, place and landscape. Irish Pastoral offers an exemplary probe into this Irish literary tradition that has been much remarked upon but little analysed. While rooted in a thorough knowledge of the classical pastoral tradition as shaped by Theocritus and Virgil, the Irish pastoral mode displays a heightened sense of the nostalgia usually associated with pastoral. From approximately the thirteenth century on, Irish literature displays a preoccupation with nature as the site for nostalgia; Irish Pastoral argues that this preoccupation becomes increasingly linked with the fact of the British colonial presence in Ireland. After offering an overview of the representation of nature in Irish literature prior to 1600, this book examines the collision between Irish and English pastoral forms during Spenser's time in Ireland, and then seeks to ascertain the ways in which these two literary modes subsequently intertwine as a seeming result of the consolidation of English colonial dominance of Ireland. This merging and blending of English and Irish pastoral forms is best witnessed in the period of the Irish Revival and in the literature that follows; Irish Pastoral then examines some of the major figures of twentieth century Irish literature for the inheritance of these themes.
Publication Date: 5/1/2005