The lack of any strongly sustained popular resistance to the policies that have issued from the wider global neoliberal crash of 2008 has been a conspicuous feature of Irish society over the last decade. Though that crisis fragmented the political field in the Republic of Ireland, Irish literary and cultural life has generally remained eerily becalmed and consensual, even soporific; the sudden and sharp meltdown of the Celtic Tiger notwithstanding, many of the country’s leading writers have more or less ignored the crisis or have lined up with establishment- and corporate-friendly conceptions of the situation. This essay offers a long-range analysis of the social conditions and ideological forces that have combined over the past several decades to reconstitute the modern Irish literary field, and it begs the question as to whether an Irish “national literature” really survives in any forceful or socially engaged sense in the twenty-first century.

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