Saint Patrick’s Day, a major annual celebration which takes place on March 17, is an event which promotes Irish culture, Irish art, Irish crafts and, of course, Irish writers.
Through their passionate, romantic, innovative, daring and sometimes even funny works, many of the authors who inspired and developed my love of books and writing in general, were in fact Irish. I bet most of you readers out there have encountered one or two of these books, and if you don’t like to read so much, most of them have inspired a number of movies/series as well.
Here is a list of seven of my top favourite books by Irish writers (and geniuses).
- The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
My Masters Degree thesis focused on Oscar Wilde, so I just adore his works, but this one has a special place in my heart. Its mere preface is a manifesto of the writers’ daring and open view of the world. The book itself is a masterpiece, not just of decadence, but of psychological evolution and the quest for understanding.
- Dracula – Bram Stoker (1847 – 1912)
Everyone knows the story, which spurred on hundreds if not thousands of spin-offs. No one seems to know that the writer was Irish!!!
- The Wasteland –T. S Eliot (1888 – 1965)
This is one of the few books which I have read so many times that all the pages have literally fallen out. I’m not joking. The metaphorical ideology and the premise of how and why Christianity sifted and turned Irish pagan worship and faerie tales to its own stolen doctrine is staggering. The way Eliot uses the language is beautiful and melodic, his poetry hypnotic in its intensity. There are so many layers to this work, reading it again and again is necessary – reading it once is simply not enough.
- Ulysses – James Joyce (1882 – 1941)
Stream of Consciousness, which is a narrative mode which depicts feelings and thoughts exactly as they are felt in succession, is a very dynamic and realistic form of writing. Through an interior monologue, the narrator/s depicts not just his life, but his every thought process and psychological involvement. Ulysses, being a day in the life of Harold Bloom, is a simple book – and yet a very complex one.
- The Celtic Twilight – William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)
The Irish Poet par excellence. Through his poetry Yeats tried to transmit his love for his country and the beauty of everyday passions, while at the same time furthering his Nationalist ideals and being a driving force behind the so-called Gaelic Revival movement.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe series – C. S Lewis (1898 – 1963)
The Narnia books were a very important part of my childhood. Lewis charms young and adult alike with his wonderful tales which portray fantastical characters, while depicting metaphors of Christianity and echoes of realism.
- Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
Political satire and social hatred couched in the guise of a children’s tale – could anything be more poignant? Everyone knows the tale of Gulliver’s Travels … or do they? If all you’ve watched is the movie, whichever version or year it came out in, then you haven’t experienced the best part of these travels. While the movies always portray the first and most light-hearted part of the novel, that is the voyage to Lilliput and Brobdingnag (the land of the giants), they fail to describe the more serious part of the book, which actually deals with social satire and criticism. A real must read!