Outrageous Fortune: Capital and Culture in Modern Ireland

Joseph Cleary
May 2007

Did Ireland produce a more radical and ambitious literature in the straitened circumstances of the first half of the twentieth century than it has managed to do since it began to modernize and become more affluent from the 1960s onwards? Has Irish modernism ceded place to a prevailing naturalism that seems gritty and tough-minded, but that is in reality aesthetically conservative and politically self-thwarted? Does the fixation with de Valera s Ireland in recent narrative represent a necessary settling of accounts with a dark, abusive history or is it indicative of a worrying inability on the part of Irish artists and intellectuals to respond to the very different predicaments of the post-Cold War world? These are some of the questions addressed in OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE. Scanning literature, theatre, film and music, Joe Cleary probes the connections between capital, culture and criticism in modern Ireland. He includes readings of James Joyce and the Irish modernists, the naturalists Patrick Kavanagh, John McGahern and Edna O Brien, and comments too on what he terms the neo-naturalism of Marina Carr, Patrick McCabe and Martin McDonagh. He concludes with a provocative analysis of the cultural achievement of the Pogues.