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  • Editors’ Notes:Nótaí na nEagarthóirí

In 1979, the Irish-Canadian-American novelist Brian Moore published The Mangan Inheritance, a send-up of Irish literary stereotypes involving a writer who believes he has found an ancestor in the poet Mangan. In this issue, we enjoy the reflections of the Irish-Canadian-American poet Thomas O'Grady, who explores the several inheritances that have shaped his life and writing. Not the least of these is his presumed descent from the seventeenth century's Dáibhí Ó Bruadair, some of whose verses he has translated from the Irish. Life can indeed imitate art; but, where Moore's novel rarely moves past irony and farce, O'Grady's engagement with his remote forebear is of a different order. Scholarly, empathetic, and grateful, the story here (woven together with excerpts from his published and unpublished verse) becomes, in the end, a meditation on the roots of creativity. Thomas O'Grady is a prolific reviewer and critic whose articles on modern Irish literature have appeared in such journals as New Hibernia Review, Éire-Ireland, and the James Joyce Quarterly.

The American understanding of Ireland has long been shaped by classic films. As Maryanne Felter and Daniel Schultz show here, well before John Ford's The Quiet Man or Robert Fitzgerald's Man of Aran—even before the "talkies"—the Film Company of Ireland (FCI) was alert to this transatlantic trade in images. Under the leadership of the lawyer James Mark Sullivan, the FCI undertook to produce and distribute films with a nationalist purpose, the most successful of which was Knocknagow (1918). Drawing on business records held at Cornell University, Professors Felter and Schultz track the rise and fall of this short-lived company, and find that FCI's goals were both propagandistic and business-oriented, often at the same time: in one memo, the FCI advised theater owners that "The way to handle the pictures is to Sinn Fein them." Maryanne Felter has published articles in Éire-Ireland and the Journal of Irish Literature; her colleague Daniel Schultz is currently engaged in historical research on upstate New York.

A Vietnam veteran who has returned often to Southeast Asia, and now director of the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and its Social Consequences [End Page 5] at the University of Massachussetts Boston, poet Kevin Bowen has borne clear witness to the realities of war in such collections as Playing Basketball with the Viet Cong (1994). In recent years, he has spent increasing time in Ireland, especially Achill Island, and these travels have also found expression in his work, notably in Eight True Maps of the West, published in 2003 by the Dedalus Press. Here, in "The Yellow Drum on its Side," Bowen charts an unsettling Christmas holiday in Ireland during the weeks before the American invasion of Iraq. The steady piling-up of fragmentary phrases in this eight-part poem suggests the fragmentation of the outside world, even as it records continuities with the past. Almost cinematically, the poem thus depicts a collision of memoryand the present.

The comic genius Brian O'Nolan—whether writing as Flann O'Brien or as columnist Myles na Gopaleen—was dogged throughout his career by the phantom of Ireland's most eminent author in prose, James Joyce, against whom he continually measured himself. In this issue, Ronald Dotterer reprises the younger author's sometimes peevish, sometimes reverent comments on the master. As Professor Dotterer shows, "This link with James Joyce was one O'Nolan embraced, at times begrudgingly or unwillingly, but always out of some inner artistic and psychic necessity." In his 1964 novel The Dalkey Archive, O'Nolan undertook his most audacious reworking of the Joycean specter when he imagined the author of Ulysses not as a rebel genius, but as a pious, ultraconventional character whose only literary credits are tracts for the Catholic Truth Society. Among Dr. Dotterer's seven books on varied topics is Gender, Culture, and the Arts: Women, the Arts, and Society (1993).

Irish writing is frequently distinguished by what Dr. Csilla Bertha calls "a deep embeddedness in place." That topographic sensitivity moves outward to the physical landscape, as well as inward...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5815
Print ISSN
1092-3977
Pages
pp. 5-8
Launched on MUSE
2004-09-08
Open Access
No
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