Celebrating the Authors of Ireland

March brings us the first day of spring and the start of daylight saving’s, but it also brings us the holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. Instead of a Catholic feast like the name would suggest, it’s a celebration of Irish culture and people. Growing up in New England, we spent a lot of time learning about our immigrant histories and how they were important parts of the Industrial Revolution and the workers’ rights movement.

Irish culture is much more than drinking, cabbage stew, emerald vales and Enya, but it can be hard to see if your exposure to Ireland is just the media and green watered-down beer. To help pique your interest in this unique country we’ve compiled a list of books that should give you a better picture of Ireland.

Angela's Ashes


Angela’s Ashes

A memoir, McCourt recounts his short time in New York City and his family’s subsequent return to Limerick. They struggle with an absent and alcoholic father and abject poverty. It won a Pulitzer in 1997 and has been adapted into both a movie and a play.


Ulysses


Ulysses

The famous Irish writer has created many works considered difficult to read or experimental in nature. Ulysses, taking place over a single day, has many allusions and parallels to the Greek epic The Odyssey. It’s one of the most challenged works in literature, with influential writers like Virginia Woolf finding little value in it. Despite all that, it’s held as one of the most important works in English literature.


How the Irish Saved Civilization


How The Irish Saved Civilization

Before Gutenberg invented the printing press, texts were meticulously copied by hand, from simple pages to beautiful illuminated manuscripts. Frequently in Western civilization this was done by monks to preserve Christian texts. But these skills were used to preserve many other works, including foreign mythologies and Greco-Roman philosophers. Cahill’s book covers how Irish monasteries kept history alive as other libraries were lost.


Poems of W. B. Yeats


Poems of W. B. Yeats

A Nobel Prize winner in Literature, this Irish poet is one of the most important in the twentieth century. He was a strong user of symbolism and traditional forms of poetry. Ireland is known for its songs and poems and Yeats is no exception.


The Picture of Dorian Gray


The Picture of Dorian Gray

The classic story of a man who makes a portrait of himself age so he may live forever, much like Ulysses, faced a lot of criticism when it was released for “immorality” and being “vulgar.” As a result multiple versions have been printed with then-controversial parts obfuscated or removed. The work is in public domain and easy to obtain, though fans of Oscar Wilde should look into its publication history and study the different versions.

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