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Book reviews tainty about who is speaking would arise equally whatever method of denoting speech was adopted, and indeed the uncertainty is just as pronounced in the first edition of Dubliners, in which inverted commas were used despite Joyce's wishes, as in any later edition. Joyce's practice of using dashes rather than inverted commas is instead striking in that it can blur the distinction between a character's speech and the ensuing narration, a different kind of uncertainty which Thurston might have explored. In sum, then, this is a challenging and somewhat uncompromising investigation which may cause readers to rethink their assumptions about various theorists, authors and texts, notably Freud, Shakespeare , Stevenson and Finnegans Wake. The methodology and style will be too Lacanian in places for some readers' tastes, even while there may be good reasons for their adoption. So while the content may well be of interest to anyone concerned with Joyce, it would be better recommended to those Joyceans who already have an appetite for Lacanian approaches and language. David G. Wright University of Auckland Gaelic Prose & the Irish Free State Philip O'Leary. Gaelic Prose in the Irish Free State 1922-1939. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press; Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2004. 784 pp. $95.00 £65.00 SINCE its publication in 1996, Philip O'Leary's The Prose Literature of the Irish Revival 1893-1922: Ideology and Innovation has been an indispensable resource for scholars working on the Irish revival. It provides for a radical revision of a period previously glossed over by Irish-language critics, embarrassed by the apparent sterility and provincialism of futile debates among hardline ideologues whose fulminations could never compensate for the failure, with notable exceptions, to produce literature of substance. While never insisting on an unconditional rehabilitation of all the protagonists, O'Leary's work cautions against a naive reading of the work of the early revivalists, pointing out that the most scathing critique of cultural nationalism, in its most virulent aspects, is often provided from among the ranks of the revivalists themselves. His reading of the clashes between progressives and conservatives reminds us that these are flexible positions rather than stable categories, and that the key adversaries are occasionally to be found adopting standpoints that are at odds with their reputations as 99 ELT 49 :1 2006 either radical or reactionary. Among those he makes special mention of are Séamus O Grianna, whose blistering polemics are at odds with the sentimental nostalgia of much of his creative writing, and Liam Ó Rinn, a sophisticated cosmopolitan litterateur, and the most significant critic in Irish since Pádraig Pearse. Perhaps the most intriguing writer rediscovered in O'Leary's earlier work is Una Dix, an Anglo-Irish Protestant whose treatment of some of the more problematic aspects of Gaeltacht life, including domestic violence, found a substantial readership among her contemporaries. The present volume continues the rereading of prose literature in Irish from the establishment of the Free State to the outbreak of war in 1939, a period in which the heroic idealism of the earlier period had apparently collapsed and the modernist breakthrough of the war years could hardly have been anticipated. As in the earlier period, there is considerable anxiety as to the ability of Irish to accommodate the full range of modern human experience, to bring the language "into those depths where Mona Lisa learned to smile," a difficulty exacerbated by an ideological mistrust of the urban and the modern. We are reminded again of the "high seriousness and integrity" of those for whom the production of literature in Irish remained a key element in the unfinished project of nation-building.We are also reminded that the presumed connection between writing in Irish and the national project was fiercely contested by many contemporary critics and writers. Those who saw the development of a new literature as providing a vehicle for the reGaelicisation of Ireland could point to the remarkable success of the government publication office, An Gúm, with 300 titles published and 250,000 copies sold between 1926 and 1937. Even if there is no direct correlation between sales figures and the actual number of readers...


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pp. 99-103
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Will Be Archived 2021
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