Lonely Voices: The Irish Short Story from James Joyce to Claire Keegan

Lecture given to Kate O’Brien Winter School, February 2010

What I want to do in this talk is to celebrate the Irish short story and, in the process, to try to define what makes it so distinctive – and, indeed, to try and tease out what has drawn so many Irish writers to it. But in order to do so, I feel I must deal first with a strange fact, as I see it, about the Irish literature for which we’re famous.

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Letters to Monica. By Philip Larkin.

Philip LarkinThe decade following Philip Larkin’s death in 1985 was calamitous for his reputation. On his demise, he was the most widely loved poet of his time and his passing was mourned by people for whom his beautifully crafted and deeply felt lyrics were proof that contemporary verse didn’t have to be obscurantist and alienating. But in 1992 Anthony Thwaite’s edition of his letters revealed a less cherishable figure, while Andrew Motion’s 1993 biography mainly served to confirm that impression. (Image from www.guardian.co.uk)

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