Are you talking to me?

Michael Pierse examines how the Irish working class have been represented in literature.

EXTRACT:

In his 1958 play The Hostage, Brendan Behan interestingly mixes the issue of class with post-colonial politics, suggesting how the Republic of Ireland had inherited much of the snobbery of its erstwhile colonial rulers. When Behan’s captive English soldier, Leslie, encounters the English-born but of Irish extraction IRA veteran Monsewer amongst his captors, their antagonism hinges on class rather than ethno-national enmities:

MONSEWER: Are you a cricketer, my boy?
SOLDIER: Yes, sir. Do you like a game?
MONSEWER: By Jove, yes.
SOLDIER: Mind you, I couldn’t get on
with it at the Boys’ Home. They
gave us two sets of stumps, you see,
and I’d always been used to one,
chalked up on the old wall at home.
MONSEWER: That’s not cricket, my boy.
SOLDIER: Now there you are, then.
You’re what I call a cricket person
and I’m what I call a soccer person.
That’s where your race lark comes in.

By mistaking class for race, Leslie’s retort suggests how the former is as important as the latter in this encounter. […]

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July/August 2017 (issue no.374) 


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A Flutter of Wings

by Mervyn Wall

First collected in 1974, the stories span Mervyn Wall's entire writing career, dating back to the 1940s.

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A Flutter of Wings by Mervyn Wall
ISBN: 978-1-78380-017-9
Publisher: The Swan River Press


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