By Melissa Fegan
The impression of the Irish famine of 1845-1852 was once remarkable in either political and mental phrases. the consequences of famine-related mortality and emigration have been devastating, within the box of literature not less than in different parts. during this incisive new learn, Melissa Fegan explores the famine's legacy to literature, tracing it within the paintings of up to date writers and their successors, right down to 1919. Dr. Fegan examines either fiction and non-fiction, together with journalism, travel-narratives and the Irish novels of Anthony Trollope. She argues that an exam of famine literature that easily categorizes it as "minor" or perspectives it purely as a silence or a scarcity misses the very actual contribution that it makes to our knowing of the interval. this is often a tremendous contribution to the learn of Irish background and literature, sharply illuminating modern Irish mentalities.
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Extra resources for Literature and the Irish Famine 1845-1919 (Oxford Historical Monographs)
41 Famine historians seem obtrusively cautious, meek, reticent, and precise in methodology in a futile attempt to placate the critics—and, given the attacks, this is hardly surprising. Yet an avoidance of unseemly anachronism seems to involve a rejection of the importance of many contemporary sources, including ignoring the fact that Mitchel was not just a fanatic, but also provided necessary insights into contemporary public opinion, as is shown by the huge interest in the United Irishman in , both in Ireland and in mainland Britain, and the enduring relevance of Jail Journal.
64 Mitchel, Jail Journal, . Mitchel, Last Conquest, . Historiography of the Great Famine country, and disquieted and exasperated England. ’65 Even the title The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps) gestures in its ambiguity towards an alternative progress that denies the stasis posited by Morash. 66 His manipulation of the story enables him to trope himself as a martyr—even as a Christfigure, as in his description of the trial: Let any high-spirited Irishman try to conceive himself in my place on that day: confronting that coarse mimicry of law and justice; on the brink of a fate worse than a thousand deaths; stationed in a dock between two thieves, for having dared to aspire to the principles of freedom and manhood for myself and my children; with all the horrible sufferings and high aspirations of my country crowding on memory and imagination, and the moan of our perishing nation seeming to penetrate even there, and to load the air I breathed .
Bearing in mind Tom Dunne’s injunction against the rejection of imaginative writing as primary evidence, Hayden White’s recognition of the part ‘invention’ plays in the historian’s operations, and Edwards’s admission that Mitchel had as much right to be listened to as ‘professional’ historians, this is not to his discredit. But the form of Jail Journal and The Last Conquest follows more closely the model we come to expect in fiction, where the Famine becomes the background to a related Christopher Morash, Writing the Irish Famine (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ), .