Hungry Words re-evaluates the authors and texts generally recognised as the 'canon' of Irish literature in the light of newly-identified famine discourse. Each essay focuses on the ways Irish authors with varying claims to canonical status affect and are affected by the literary discourse which emerged from the Great Famine. The anthology further illuminates not only the cultural impact of the famine, but the nature of the canon itself and the ideologies used to determine which authors and texts best represent Ireland's cultural identity. Although the Famine and its cultural aftermath in particular have become increasingly popular subjects of scholarly inquiry in the past few years, most studies of Famine literature have focused exclusively on works, authors, and cultural experiences outside the Irish literary mainstream. This oversight has perpetuated the longstanding myth that Irish authors and Irish culture have, for the most part, deliberately avoided engagements with the Famine. Hungry Words will seek to dispel this myth by tracing the Famine's influence on the works of mainstream authors from throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century. Through this approach the book will demonstrate that, far from being ignored, the legacy of the Famine has been felt, explored, and transformed by each generation of Irish authors since the 1840s. Furthermore, by focusing on authors with differing claims to canonical status, the anthology as a whole will cast a critical eye on the ideologies of the Irish canon over the last 160 years.
Publication Date: 3/1/2006