On Irish Literature and Identities is the second volume of James Liddy’s critical essays, following On American Literature and Diasporas. Though it makes great swerves and has multiple frames of reference, On Irish Literature and Identities is framed by James Liddy’s intense and enduring attachment to Dublin. Even when he is looking beyond Dublin, as is the case in his essays on poets from the-North of Ireland, he writes from a perspective heavily shaded by Dublin opinion. As a student James Liddy began to engage with Dublin’s literary and bohemian culture, and meeting Patrick Kavanagh was the singular event that changed his life. James Liddy writes about the writers he encountered during these years and brings alive a vanished world. Though this world was highly social, Liddy is interested in its literary aspect, the ways in which the literary and the social cross paths in bars, restaurants, lecture theatres, bookshops and in publishing houses. In many respects the world he describes is one in which
barriers between public and private worlds are erased. Throughout these essays, Liddy engages with both the writers and their work and with the literary traditions from which they emerged. This· is a book of literary-academic-and
bohemian witness written in an engaging, brilliant, and unique voice.
Though best-known as a poet, James Liddy wrote and published in a variety of other literary genres: the critical essay, the personal essay, and the novella. Among the writers whose work he explores in On Irish Literature and Identities are George Moore, Samuel Beckett, Patrick Kavanagh, Austin Clarke, Seamus Heaney, Padraic Fiacc, Thomas Kinsella, Frank McGuinness and Thomas McCarthy. The greater part of his academic life was spent at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee where he began teaching in 1976. Throughout his American career, James Liddy made frequent visits to Ireland and maintained a visible presence on the Irish literary scene as a member of Aosdana and as a frequent contributor to Irish journals and newspapers including The Irish Times.
]ames Liddy (1934-2008), a unique voice in Irish writing, was the author of many collections of poetry including In a Blue Smoke, Blue Mountain, Corea Bascinn, Wexford and Arcady and It Swings from Side to Side. He also published fiction and criticism and was a frequent reviewer of poetry in Ireland and the United States.
Eamonn Wall is a Professor of English and International Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Distributed for Arlen House
5.5 x 8.5, 192 pages