Chapter

Introduction: Approaches to Reading Irish Fiction

James H. Murphy

in Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199596997
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723520 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199596997.003.0001
Introduction: Approaches to Reading Irish Fiction

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There has been a tendency in contemporary criticism of nineteenth-century Irish fiction to read some of the English-set work of prominent English and Irish novelists as allegories for Ireland. This is because of a focus on issues of Irish identity in fiction. Allegorical readings provide the opportunity to expand the category of what can be considered under the category of Irish fiction. Though also interested in Irish identity, this present study will pursue another course, allowing a broader view of what can be deemed Irish fiction and encompassing work that at first sight appears to have little to do with the issue of Ireland or identity. In the nineteenth century the phrase ‘the Irish novel’ connoted work that deals with humorous stereotypes of Irish peasant life or with the struggle over land in Ireland. The market in England for Irish fiction declined in mid-century after the famine but rose again in the 1880s. London remained the central focus for the careers of Irish novelists during the Victorian age. Many of the more important Irish novelists were women. The chapter also investigates the ways in which authors published their novels and were paid, the state of the Irish publishing industry, individual Dublin and London publishers of Irish fiction, and Dublin and London journals and magazines that reviewed fiction.

Keywords: allegory; identity; Irish Romanticism; Irish novel; reviews; George Eliot; publishing

Chapter.  13819 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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