Irish literature

The Irish literature includes the literary production of Ireland, in a broader sense, the literature of the Irish diaspora. Sometimes the term refers only to the literature in Irish ( Gaelic ) language. The Irish literature in English is referred to as Anglo -Irish literature.

The Irish-language literature (especially that of the Middle Ages ) is subject of research in Celtic studies, the Anglo-Irish is generally in the context of English literature dealt with by the English, which often overlaps arise, even as many Irish writers wrote and write in both languages. As a cross- regional studies discipline Irlandistik (English Irish Studies) has recently been established at some universities.

Languages ​​and traditions

In Ireland literature has survived in different languages ​​since the early Middle Ages. The majority is in the Irish and English languages, smaller corpora have emerged in Latin and French. Here, a clear temporal separation of the importance of individual literary traditions can be observed. During the middle ages the literature in old -, medium- and frühneuirischer language to the body large part formed which was rather complements of Latin texts, the English conquest on the one hand, an English, Abert also a small Anglo- Norman corpus developed from the time.

The dominant literary language of Irish literature of the modern era was and is English. The Irish, however, was ever zurückgedrangt over the centuries and is now spoken by only a few tens of thousands of people as a native language, mostly rural in remote areas. As a literary language since the 19th century, however, it was revived in the context of Irish nationalism ( Irish Renaissance ) and as a second language well 1.8 million Irish course. The literature came and plays a special role, many of the most important Irish writers of the 20th and 21st century published in both languages ​​, such as Flann O'Brien and Brendan Behan.

Through a centuries-old cultural ties with Catholic France and the French is very present in Irish literature; Writers such as Oscar Wilde ( Salome, 1891) and Samuel Beckett ( En attendant Godot, 1953) wrote some of their works first in French.

During the 19th and 20th centuries emigrated million Irish people, especially to the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Their experiences are reflected in a rich diaspora literature. Irish- American writers who drew their origin at the center of their work, are about James T. Farrell ( Studs Lonigan, 1932-1935 ), Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943), JP Donleavy ( The Ginger Man, 1955 ), Edwin O'Connor ( The Edge of Sadness, 1962), William Kennedy ( Ironweed, 1983) and Frank McCourt ( Angela 's Ashes, 1996).


From before the Christianisation of Ireland, no literature has survived in written form. As in the case of many early cultures, however, assumes a very rich oral literary tradition that has left their mark in the literary monuments of the later period more or less clearly. With the advent of Christianity and especially the founding of monasteries, this literature was recorded gradually in parts and - heavily Christianized - by now widely accepted doctrine. This indigenous literature has been enriched with works from Latin and partly Greek, which have been translated in part and also further developed. It is assumed that the medieval Irish treasure of tales and legends with the pre-Christian corpus had only distant similarities.

With the conquest of the island by the Normans from 1169 was not only the Irish language in a competitive situation with the Anglo -Norman, brought the English later, the new inhabitants, left over time also written tracks in their own language. However, until a noteworthy literary corpus can be no question, pass away due to the political and social development of Ireland in the High and Late Middle Ages centuries. It was not until the 18th century, may develop what is now called the Anglo -Irish literature. This late development, however, should lead in the late 19th and early 20th century to an unprecedented flowering, as the Irish literature for storytelling and innovation gained worldwide fame. The 20th century saw then a variety of Irish writer the English language which enriched their own literary tradition as the " world literature " a lot.

Parallel with the rise of the Anglo- Irish literature Irish-language literature of the descent took place. After a new peak in the 13th and 14th century (Classical Irish ) and the gradual decline until about 1600 broke with the expulsion of the Irish nobility in 1607, the political and cultural basis of this literary tradition. The literature production fell mid-19th century, almost to zero. Was not until the late 19th and the early 20th century as part of the revival of the Irish language and a literary new beginning instead of holding with restrictions until today.


Since about the 1970s, take the Anglo- Irish and Irish Literature in Irish culture positions that are theoretically often classified as equally important. Practically, however, dominated by the Anglo-Irish literature numerically and in terms of perception - both in Ireland and especially abroad - to a large extent. However, be noted is a relatively high degree of mutual influence of the two traditions. While many Anglo-Irish authors (including, for example, the medieval Irish-language literature) openly collected entitled to their share of the long Irish tradition, many modern Irish-language authors followed on an international scale, while also and above all to the native literature English language ( as Máirtín Ó Cadhain about James Joyce ).

International role

Irish writers have been honored many times with international literary awards and were short-listed for prizes. The Irish winners of the Nobel Prize for literature include William Butler Yeats (1923 ), George Bernard Shaw ( 1925), Samuel Beckett (1969) and Seamus Heaney (1995).

Since the 1990s, Ireland has produced two winners of the Booker Prize. 1993 Roddy Doyle Award for his novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. In 2005, John Banville won with the speech-centric novel, The Sea (Eng. The Lake, 2006). Already in the year before the novel was The Master ( dt portrait of the master of middle age, 2005), by Colm Tóibín in the final ( Shortlist ) represented, but ultimately succumbed to the work of The Line of Beauty (Eng. The Line of Beauty, 2005) of the Englishman Alan Hollinghurst. Early as 1989, also with John Banville The Book of Evidence (Eng. The book of evidence) in the final, but lost to Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day (Eng. What Remains of the Day ).

The Irish writer John Banville says: " In addition to many bad things the British have brought us a wonderful language with English, and Irish society is one that is built on the storytelling. In other words: We are always up for a good story, and we have the language to tell them. "

Secondary literature

  • Anne M. Brady and Brian Cleeve (ed.): A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Writers. Lilliput, Mullingar 1985. ISBN 0946640033, and St. Martin's Press, New York 1985. ISBN 0312078714
  • Seamus Deane: A Short History of Irish Literature. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame IL 1986. Reprint 1994. ISBN 0268017514
  • Robert Hogan: Dictionary of Irish Literature. 2 vols. Second, expanded edition. Aldwych Press, London 1996. ISBN 0861721020 and Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. In 1996. ISBN 0313291721
  • Margaret Kelleher and Philip O'Leary (ed.): The Cambridge History of Irish Literature. 2 vols. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 2006. ISBN 0521822246
  • Declan Kiberd: Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation. Jonathan Cape, London 1995 ISBN 0224041975 Reprint: ., Random House, New York, 2009 ISBN 1409044971.
  • Robert Welch ( ed.): The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1996. ISBN 0198661584
  • Matthew Campbell ( eds): The Cambridge Companion to Contemporary Irish Poetry. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 2003. ISBN 0521813018
  • Eamon Grennan: Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the Twentieth Century. Creighton University Press, Omaha, NE 1999. ISBN 1881871282
  • Peter Mackay, Edna Longley and Fran Brearton (Ed. ): Modern Irish and Scottish Poetry. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 2011. ISBN 0521196027
  • Justin Quinn: The Cambridge Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry, 1800-2000. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 2008. ISBN 0521846730
  • Gregory A. Schirmer: Out of What Began: A History of Irish Poetry in English. Cornell University Press, Ithaca NY, 1998. ISBN 080143498X
  • Shaun Richards ( ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-century Irish drama. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 2003. ISBN 0521804000
  • Sanford Sternlicht: Modern Irish Drama: W. B. Yeats to Marina Carr. Syracuse University Press, Syracuse NY, 2010. ISBN 0815632452
  • Jochen Achilles and Rüdiger Imhof: Irish dramatists of the present. Darmstadt University Press 1996. ISBN 3534126564
  • Joachim Cornelius Erwin Otto and Gerd Stratmann (eds.): introduction to contemporary Irish literature. University Press C. Winter, Heidelberg 1980. ISBN 353302959X ( = Anglistische researches 148)
  • Heinz Kosok: History of Anglo-Irish literature. Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 1990. ISBN 3770523075
  • Klaus Lubbers: History of the Irish narrative prose. From the beginnings to the end of the 19th century. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich, 1985. ISBN 3770523075
  • Friedhelm Rathjen: The green ink: Mini-guide by the Irish literature. Edition Rejoyce, Scheessel 2004. ISBN 3000131906


  • Culture (Ireland )
  • Literature ( Irish)