From independence to the 1960s
In the climate of exalted nationalism intolerant of any criticism established after the victory, theatrical authors fell back on works of a prevalently individual psychological nature. This was followed by TC Murray, J. Shiels, L. Robinson, PV Carroll, T. Deevy. On the contrary, S. O’Casey dealt with the political and social reality, not only Irish, of his time, then reviving, between 1950 and 1958, the languishing theater with a group of tragicomedies. The appeal inherent in O’Casey’s work for better conditions of life holds to the most elementary and almost idyllic aspects of everyday existence; but the generation formed after the Second World War felt more acutely the contrast between the past, to which Ireland still remained linked, and the present, not only of the island but of everything the world contemporary. In 1951, the fire that destroyed the historic Abbey Theater was an almost symbolic event of the serious identity crisis that Irish culture was going through. Two playwrights were among the most significant interpreters: M. Meldon and the most famous B. Behan, whose comedies The quare fellow (1958) and The hos; tage (1959) anticipate the forms and tones of the so-called ‘angry’ English theater. Among Behan’s contemporaries and successors are to be remembered: D. Johnston ; J. Boyd; S. Thompson; MJ Molloy; H. Leonard; JB Keane; E. McCabe; T. Kilroy, who denounces the moral misery of the urban context; T. Murphy, describing the province’s malaise; F. McGuinness. A separate discussion deserves B. Friel, Irish from Ulster, who tackles the problems of Ireland contemporary, from the battle for the rights of the Catholic minority to the fratricidal struggles in Ulster, ultimately conducting a close analysis on the political implications of language.
In the narrative, they take up the tradition of the Zolian naturalist novel Esther Waters (1894) by G. Moore and some historical novels by L. O’Flaherty. Autobiography as a search for identity is a genre that has been very successful among the Irish, but the literary genre par excellence is the novella: it is enough to recall the collections of O’Flaherty, F. O’Connor, S. O ‘Faolain and the writer M. Lavin. Three very sensitive narrators are exemplary interpreters of the uneasiness of the Anglo-Irish belonging to the former ruling class: E. Bowen, MB Keane, who became famous in old age, J. Johnston. On the other hand, in the Irish literary experience there is always a trend that can be traced back to the fantastic genre whose greatest representatives are Lord E. Dunsany and J. Stephens. A space of its own occupies the creative parable of J. Joyce. After the short stories from the Dubliners collection (1914) and the autobiographical A portrait of artist as young man (1916), Joyce rose to world fame with the linguistic and narrative experimentalism of Ulysses (1929) and Finnegans wake (1939), marking in indelible way the next course not only of the narrative but also of the poetry of Ireland, where his work arrived with serious delay due to a rigid censorship system. Among his most prestigious heirs are S. Beckett and F. O’Brien, brilliant experimenters of forms, the first in a linguistic key, the second structural. In contemporary fiction, alongside Joycian experimentalism and the fantastic Stepehensonian, other European and American influences converge which make any arrangement difficult. Among the most important authors: B. Kiely, J. Plumkett, B. Moore, A. Higgins, W. Trevor, J. Mc Gahern, J. Banville. In the vast panorama of poetic production the following stand out: A. Clarke, refined experimenter of meters and rhythms derived from Gaelic poetry, proponent of the drama in verse; P. Kavanagh, whose dazzling formal simplicity reveals a joyful and mystical spirit. Sensitive to the influences of modernism and the great French poetry of the 20th century. were V. Iremonger, L. MacNeice and D. Devlin.
Modern and contemporary production in Gaelic
According to Localcollegeexplorer, there are numerous writers, even among those already mentioned, who have made a contribution to literary production in Gaelic; among the greatest of them are: P. Ó Conaire, with the collections of short stories set in the archaic world of the Galway region; T. Ó Criomhtháin, with the novel on the islands Blasket án tOileanach (“The Islander “, 1929), and M. Ó Súileabháin with Fiche blian ag fas (“Twenty years of growth”, 1933), both originally from the islands Aran where Irish is still the mother tongue; S. Ó Grianna, sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for opposing the 1921 treaty with England and rehabilitated at the end of the civil war (1932); M. Ó Cadháin, author of Cré na cille (“The land of the cemetery”, 1949), which together with the collection of short stories Dúil (1953) by L. O’Flaherty and the novel An béal bocht (“The poor mouth”, 1941) by F. O’Brien, figure among the masterpieces of Gaelic prose. In the poetic production, which saw the greatest poets of the 20th century. engaged in the translation into English of the Celtic heritage, after the patriotic lyrics of the hero of the Dublin Uprising P. Pearse, we remember the satirical verses of M. Ó Direáin, the works of S. Ó Ríordáin, the love poems of M. Mhac an tSaoi. Among the plays in Gaelic, alongside the plays by D. Hyde, we remember An giall («The hostage», 1958) by B. Behan, later translated by the same author into English; Lá fhéile míchíl by E. Ó Tuairisc and the collection Maloney agus drámaí eile (1967) by S. Ó Tuama.
In the last years of the 20th century, literature in the Irish language has enjoyed particular success. Irish writers increasingly try their hand at translating the masterpieces of ancient literature. Interesting are the cases of poets who pass from one language to another in different phases of their artistic and existential parable with valuable expressive results, as happened to M. Hartnett. The loudest voice is undoubtedly that of poet N. Ní Dhomhnaill, who defines Irish as ‘the mother tongue’ as opposed to English, the language of patriarchal power.