Ireland And The Fiction Of Improvement by Helen O'connellIreland And The Fiction Of Improvement by Helen O'connell

Ireland And The Fiction Of Improvement

byHelen O'connell

Hardcover | September 15, 2006

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This is the first study of Irish improvement fiction, a neglected genre of nineteenth-century literary, social, and political history.Ireland and the Fiction of Improvement shows how the fiction of Mary Leadbeater, Charles Bardin, Martin Doyle, and William Carleton attempted to lure Irishpeasants and landowners away from popular genres such as fantasy, romance, and 'radical' political tracts as well as 'high' literary and philosophical forms of enquiry. These writers attempted to cultivate a taste for the didactic tract, an assertively realist mode of representation. Accordingly,improvement fiction laboured to demonstrate the value of hard work, frugality, and sobriety in a rigorously realistic idiom, representing the contentment that inheres in a plain social order free of excess and embellishment. Improvement discourse defined itself in opposition to the perceivedextremism of revolutionary politics and literary writing, seeking (but failing) to exemplify how both political discontent and unhappiness could be offset by a strict practicality and prosaic realism. This book demonstrates how improvement reveals itself to be a literary discourse, enmeshed in thevery rhetorical abyss it sought to escape. In addition, the proudly liberal rhetoric of improvement is shown to be at one with the imperial discourse it worked to displace. Helen O'Connell argues that improvement discourse is embedded in the literary and cultural mainstream of modern Ireland and has hindered the development of intellectual and political debate throughout this period. These issues are examined in chapters exploring the career of William Carleton;peasant 'orality'; educational provision in the post-Union period; the Irish language; secret society violence; Young Ireland nationalism; and the Irish Revival.
Helen O'Connell is a Lecturer in English Studies at the University of Durham. She has previously lectured at University College Dublin.
Title:Ireland And The Fiction Of ImprovementFormat:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.72 inPublished:September 15, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199286469

ISBN - 13:9780199286461


Table of Contents

Introduction: The Aesthetics of Excess1. 'False Refinement', Plain Speech, and Improved Writing2. Improvement and Nostalgia: Society Schools and Hedge Schools3. The Silence of Irish4. Political Discipline and the rhetoric of Moderation5. The Aesthetics of Excess: Improvement and RevivalismConclusion