Contemporary Irish fiction and the indirect gaze
in From prosperity to austerity
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Neil Murphy, comparing contemporary writers with Joyce, Beckett and Flann O'Brien, notes the complex and nuanced relationship between these texts and their cultural contexts. The ‘Celtic Tiger’ period, a moment of the most dramatic impact in recent Irish history, offers an opportunity to consider the nature of the possible relationship between literary fiction and its social and political contexts. Joyce's legendarily disinterested attitude towards World War 1, and his largely disengaged response to the revolutionary upheavals in Ireland between 1916 and 1923, are artistically revealing, particularly since the timeframe of the composition of Ulysses coincides with these historically cataclysmic years in European history. In a direct and antagonistic gesture towards referential writing, In this chapter, Murphy, through close readings of the works of John Banville and Dermot Healy, as well as consideration of Sebastian Barry and Anne Enright, suggests that while they may appear to gaze backwards in time, or into the depths of highly personalized ontological questions, or at the conundrums of artistic form, if one tilts the glass just a little it may be that the reflected image offers us a few useful glimpses of the Celtic Tiger years after all, but by potent, indirect vision.

From prosperity to austerity

A socio-cultural critique of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath

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