Exploring Literary Backgrounds in Traditional Irish Storytelling

On St. Patrick’s Day, millions of Americans celebrate the life of the patron saint of Ireland by dyeing their rivers green, wearing “Kiss me, I’m Irish” buttons and drinking green beer.

But the true essence of Irish culture is the fine art of storytelling.

Alan Friedman, the Arthur J. Thaman and Wilhelmina Doré Thaman Professor of English and Comparative Literature, explores this distinctly Irish tradition through the works of two of the 20th century’s most notable Irish writers in “Party Pieces: Oral Storytelling and Social Performance in Joyce and Beckett” (Syracuse University Press, 2007).

Examining storytelling styles, such as hearthside oral narratives, music and dance, Friedman illuminates how social performances shaped the literary output of James Joyce’s fiction and Samuel Beckett’s plays. With a particular focus on Joyce’s great tome “Ulysses,” and Becket’s play “Waiting for Godot,” he reveals how traditional Irish narratives were steeped in the writers’ most prolific works.

Friedman is author of “Fictional Death and the Modernist Enterprise” and editor of “Beckett in Black and Red: The Translations for Nancy Cunard’s Negro.” He has taught at universities in England, France and Ireland, is the coordinator of the annual residency program, Actors from the London Stage, and faculty adviser to the student organization, Spirit of Shakespeare.

Do you know the history behind your favorite St. Patrick’s Day tradition? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

1 thought on “Exploring Literary Backgrounds in Traditional Irish Storytelling

  1. I dont have tons of time right now to write a lot of my blathering opinions,(my lil girl needs attention, lol), but when I logon again, I will explain in depth why I disagree with this article.

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