The interest of Anglo-Irish literature is not only that its canon includes a high proportion of literary giants - Yeats, Joyce, Beckett - but also that it exemplifies the problematics of literature in a context of social and cultural tension. Irish literary history has often been studied under precisely that aspect: as the literature of a country in a marginal, colonial yet intra-European position; a country where a variety of cultural traditions (Gaelic, Anglo-Irish, Ulster Presbyterian) have coexisted in an uneasy relationship; a country with intense social and economic divisions. These infrastructural tensions are not mere background or part of the context, but have been explicitly thematized in a substantial part of Ireland's literary output, so that an Irish author who does not address the matter of Ireland stands out as an anomaly, an exception to the general patterns. Therefore, the historical context of much Anglo-Irish scholarship is hardly surprising. Forging the Smithy: National Identity and Representation in Anglo-Irish Literary History addresses three interrelated areas of interest: language, territory and politics; the role of historical consciousness in Irish authors and in their dissemination; and the representation of Irish affairs asa it gives rise to specific literary strategies.
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