Brian Friel is Ireland’s most important living playwright, and this book places him in the new canon of postcolonial writers. Drawing on the theory and techniques of the major postcolonial critics, F. C. McGrath offers fresh interpretations of Friel’s texts and of his place in the tradition of linguistic idealism in Irish literature.
This idealism has dominated Ireland’s still incomplete emergence from its colonial past. It appeals to Irish writers like Friel who, following in a line from Yeats, Synge, and O’Casey, challenge British
culture with antirealistic, antimirnetic devices to create alternative worlds, histories, and new identities to escape stereotypes imposed by the colonizers.
Friel grew up in Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority and now lives in the Irish Republic. McGrath maintains that all Friel’s work is marked by colonial and postcolonial structures. Like his predecessor Wilde, Friel mixes lies, facts, memories, and individual perception to create new myths and elevates blarney to a realm of aesthetic and philosophical distinction.
An important, accessible, scholarly introduction, this book illustrates how Friel playfully subverts the English language and transcends British influence. Friel’s reality is constructed from personal fiction, and it is his liberating response to oppression.
F.C. McGrath is a professor of English at the University of Southern Maine. His previous books include the much acclaimed Sensible Spirit: Walter Pater and the Modernist Paradigm.
6 x 9, 320 pages