Outrageous Fortune is a dazzling survey of twentieth-century Irish culture, from the end of the Literary Revival to the appearance of the Celtic Tiger. Ranging from the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh to the prose of John McGahern to the music of Shane MacGowan and the Pogues, Joe Cleary relates developments in literature, film and popular music to Ireland’s emergence from the shadow of economic failure and the trauma of the Troubles. He argues for a radical reappraisal of modern Irish cultural history, one in which cultural changes are explained in terms of the socio-economic and political transformation which the country has experienced since World War II. Arguing against a tendency to regard Kavanagh, McGahern and other naturalist writers as trenchant critics of the establishment, he concludes that their work lacked the sharp political edge of that of earlier writers. In popular music, however, particularly the music of the Pogues, he finds a genuinely radical art.
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Joe Cleary is a prominent commentator on contemporary Irish culture. He is a lecturer in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and the author of Literature, Partition and the Nation-State: Ireland, Israel and Palestine (2002); he is also co-editor (with Claire Connolly) of The Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture (2005).
‘At last, the truth!’ is the feeling the reader has after reading Joe Cleary’s monumental new book. Cleary mobilises a breadth of reading in world literature, literary theory and economic history, to give an objective, bird’s-eye literary view of the Irish 20th century. The result is an unsentimental account which knocks down most of the master narratives of Irish literary history –Barry McCrea, Irish Times
This is a stimulating, often adroitly challenging work that deserves a wide readership in the Irish Studies community -Terence Brown, History Ireland