Ireland & the English Crisis

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Bloodaxe Books, 1984 - English literature - 222 pages
In these brilliantly argued essays on Irish and English literature, Tom Paulin shows how writers react to political struggles and cultural upheaval - from Joyce in colonial Ireland and Auden in England in the Thirties to today's Belfast poet or Derry dramatist. The keynote of this controversial book is the phrase 'writing to the moment'. And like Samuel Richardson - whose motto this was - Tom Paulin is writing in the instant, about the present, and for the current age.Tom Paulin tackles the present crisis in English studies in a now notorious discussion of structuralism in education. This exemplary, incisive essay confronts critical fashions like "deconstruction" and exposes their destructive limitations.The book includes Paulin's famous polemic against Conor Cruise O'Brien, as well as his careful, rigorous account of Ian Paisley's writings and pronouncements. In these and in other essays he establishes a historical and cultural perspective, exploring first the "Englishness" of D.H. Lawrence, John le Carré and the expatriate Henry James, then the "Anglo-Irishness" of Oscar Wilde, William Trevor and Louis MacNeice.These forceful essays will contribute to a tradition of critical independence. They will combat what Tom Paulin calls the 'terminal self-disgust' with which much contemporary literary criticism is now afflicted.

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About the author (1984)

Tom Paulin was born in Leeds in 1949 but grew up in Belfast, and was educated at the universities of Hull and Oxford. He has published nine collections of poetry as well as a Selected Poems 1972-1990, two major anthologies, two versions of Greek drama, and several critical works, including The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt's Radical Style and, most recently, Crusoe's Secret: The Aesthetics of Dissent. His most recent collection of poems is Love's Bonfire (2012). Well known for his appearances on the BBC's Newsnight Review, he is also the G. M. Young Lecturer in English Literature at Hertford College, Oxford.

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