Review by Choice Review
The editor (English, Goldsmiths' College, London) quotes Samuel Johnson on the fair-mindedness of the Irish: "they never speak well of one another." Johnson's words, he points out, could be taken to suggest Ireland's radical divisions rather than a culture of mutual recrimination. This volume amply shows that a small island of eight million people can have a diverse and complicated culture of politics and poetry, family and faith. The Companion consists of brief topical entries arranged alphabetically. It opens, appropriately enough, with the Abbey Theatre, which claimed to be Ireland's national theater during the troubled period leading up to the 1921 treaty with Britain; the final entry briefly looks at Zozimus, the blind balladeer whose ballad "St. Patrick Was a Gentleman" is still sung in parts of Ireland. Between these entries, McCormack presents a fascinating snapshot of modern Ireland. Some of the longer entries have a short list of readings. With its emphasis on Irish culture beyond Yeats and Heaney, this is an invaluable addition to any reference collection. J. J. Doherty Northern Arizona University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
An Irish kaleidoscope is how literary historian McCormack (Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History from 1789 to 1939, 1985) describes this volume on Anglophone Irish culture since 1450. The alphabetical entries, which range from Abbey Theatre to the balladeer Zozimus, vary in length from a brief paragraph to several pages. The work focuses on the arts but contains entries on other cultural matters such as abortion, divorce, education, and religion. The volume, the editor notes, is intended to entertain as well as inform, so entries contain opinion as well as fact. Since collective headings are often used, the same subject turns up in various citations, making the index essential, especially because there are no cross references. Some headings seem odd, such as Fiction to 1830; no reason is given for this date limitation, and there are no other entries on fiction. In addition, some entries highlighting the current state of their subjects may soon become dated. Nonetheless, this resource provides valuable insights into Irish culture. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.