Archive for December, 2009

Updating the Classics? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

31 December 2009

Contributed by Christina Morin

About a third of my way through Seth Grahame-Smith’s adaptation of Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice and Zombies – I enthusiastically posted my approval on Facebook. To my surprise, a friend and colleague replied, registering her distaste and disappointment, having just finished the book herself. So much could have been done with this, she complained, but what little was done with it was disappointing. I staunchly defended the book, a bit prematurely considering I hadn’t even gotten half way through: it’s just a bit of fun, I argued, and it really was, for a while. Up until that point, I essentially agreed with Stephanie Merritt who, in her review of the novel earlier this month in The Guardian (6 December 2009), applauded the novel’s seamless merging of old (i.e. original text) and new (i.e. zombies): ‘The success of any pastiche lies in its ability to capture the tone of that original, and in this Grahame-Smith has succeeded admirably. By inserting his zombie battles into Austen’s text in appropriate style, the structure and the bulk of the book’s contents remain hers’.

By the time I finished the novel, however, I had my doubts. Overall, I felt that Grahame-Smith achieved an admirable feat in the way he managed to merge his insertions of ‘ultraviolent zombie mayhem’ into Austen’s original text as well as its social and cultural contexts. But his reverence for the latter faltered on several notable occasions, most of them involving adolescent and puerile humour concerned with Mr. Darcy’s genitalia. If I sound a bit prudish here, you’ll have to excuse me. This is, after all, Austen we’re talking about. Read more

Happy Christmas from all at Pue’s

22 December 2009

We would like to thank all of our readers and contributors for their support in 2009.

Happy Christmas and best wishes for the new year from all at Pue’s Occurrences.

We will resume our normal posting schedule 4 January 2010.

PhD Diary: Justin Dolan Stover, Trinity College Dublin

21 December 2009

Contributed by Justin Dolan Stover

Do you consider your PhD to be a job or a vocation? Both.   If it were only a vocation the lack of funding and stability wouldn’t bother me.  If it were only a job I couldn’t sustain my motivation to work.  Having aspects of both keeps me driven and satisfied.

In 20 words or less, tell us why you decided to do a PhD? Being an academic historian is the most difficult profession I could think of; a PhD was the first step.

Justin’s diary: I have several times over the past calendar month attempted to clear my mind, sit and write a diary entry which would illustrate the experiences of an American studying in Ireland.  Numerous mental obstacles emerged, however, which prevented me from doing so.  Allow me to mention just one:  the annual experience of registering with immigration.  Last year my wife and I queued for many hours, waiting with others in the cold and rain, to present ourselves, our documents and €150 each, to legally remain in Ireland.  The ordeal lasted 13 hours.  This year we shaved that down to 7 hours.  I rose at 4am to join the queue and secure our place.  Arriving at Burgh Quay at 4.30am, I was eighth in line.  My wife joined me when the offices opened at 9am as she is four months pregnant and in need of a toilet every 45 minutes or so. Read more

More On Remembrance

18 December 2009

Contributed by Peter Rigney

Ceist: Which serves commemoration better- wearing a poppy for half the autumn or lobbying councillors to retain a British Legion Hall in Killester due to be demolished to make way for a crèche?

The Northside People recently carried a story about the controversy over the proposed demolition of this structure, built in the 1920s and described as the last remaining structure of its kind in Ireland. A protest meeting was called by Labour councillor Aodhan O Riordain and was attended by Artane man Noel Cullen, secretary of the local Royal British Legion branch. We are not told how the hall went out of the possession of the legion.

The Killester development, where 247 bungalows were built for the families of men who fought in World War 1 was part of the ‘Homes fit for heroes’.  Killester railway station was built to serve it, and the competing private bus line was called ‘The Contemptible’: using the brand image of the ‘Old Contemptibles’, those who had served since 1914.  The statement that the hall is unique is an error: there is a hall built by the British Legion in the CIE estate near Inchicore Railway Works which is now home to a boxing club. Read More

The Shemus Cartoons

17 December 2009

Contributed by Felix M. Larkin

The latest National Library of Ireland exhibition focuses on the Shemus Cartoons. The exhibition runs from 9 December 2009 until end February 2010.

In December 2006 the National Library of Ireland acquired an archive of about 280 items by Ernest Forbes, mostly original drawings of his Shemus cartoons. Forbes (1879–1962) was an Englishman who had come to Ireland in 1920 to join the Freeman’s Journal staff.  He was later a well-known landscape artist and portrait painter in London and in his native Yorkshire. He used a number of pseudonyms in his long career, and the pseudonym ‘Shemus’ was exclusive to the Freeman’s Journal.

There was, of course, a rich heritage of newspaper cartoons in Ireland.  The wonderfully vivid and colourful cartoons published in the late nineteenth century by the Freeman’s Journal and other organs of nationalist opinion were immensely popular and are still often reproduced.  Not actually part of the newspaper, these cartoons were distributed gratis as ‘supplements’.   Read More

Worshipping at the ‘cathedral of modern commerce’: going shopping in the nineteenth century

15 December 2009

Contributed by Niamh Cullen

As Christmas approaches and Grafton Street gets more and more crowded each Saturday and Sunday, it seems like a good time to examine the history of one of our most popular modern pastimes: shopping.  It is only in more recent decades that most people have enough disposable income to shop for pleasure rather than necessity.  However, Grafton Street was already becoming the playground of the rich and fashionable in the nineteenth century when two new department stores opened their doors there: Switzers in 1838 and Brown Thomas in 1849. Switzers began as a fairly modest enterprise, but had more than doubled its size by 1860, occupying much of the site of the present-day Brown Thomas. John Switzer soon had a rival on the opposite side of the street when Hugh Brown and James Thomas opened their fashionable premises in 1849. By the 1850s, Brown Thomas was fast becoming Dublin’s most fashionable shopping destination.

However, it was in Paris that the department store as a ‘cathedral of modern commerce’ as Emile Zola described it, was born. Read More

Interview: Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú, TCD

14 December 2009

Interview date: 1 September 2009

What book do you wish you had written?
A.J.P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War. This is the book that inspired me as a teenager to pursue my interest in history.

What would you do if you were not a historian?
I was a late recruit to academia after trying my hand in a number of different areas – journalism in the Far East; political officer for the UN in Bosnia; running my own business. I enjoyed all these jobs and more recently I’ve developed an interest in media work.

When was the last time you looked at Wikipedia?
Last term – checking some dubious reference in an undergraduate essay. Read More

Interview: Dr Eamon Darcy, TCD

14 December 2009

Interview date: 15 May 2009

What book do you wish you had written?
Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms. Simply awesome; an exhilarating account of one man’s personal beliefs that challenged the social and political order of sixteenth century Italy. His steadfast refusal to retract his opinions and the underhand dealings in his local community that brought about his execution makes for captivating reading.

If not, then I would have written the Bible, I am sure I would copyright it properly in order to live off the royalties

What would you do if you were not a historian?
Write scripts for CSI Miami;

Setting: Westminster Cathedral Read More

The history week ahead on tv and radio: 12 December to 19 December

12 December 2009

By Juliana Adelman

The tv and radio guide for this week is now available here.  A bit thinner perhaps than usual as the Christmas business ramps up.  My personal choice this week is BBC 2’s Victorian Farm programme on Friday at 9pm.  I’m sure you’ll be out having festive drinks, but if you happen to be at home it’s worth a watch.  Perhaps my like of this programme (a series) comes from having gone to too many historical sites with re-enactors as a child, but it’s very watchable and I think quite credibly historical.

Review: Conor Kostick – Revolution in Ireland: popular militancy, 1917-1923

11 December 2009

Contributed by Justin Dolan Stover

Conor Kostick, Revolution in Ireland:  popular militancy, 1917-1923 (2nd edition, Cork: Cork University Press, 2009)

Conor Kostick’s revised second edition is a timely release.  The author is up front about his sympathy and identification with the working-class movement in Ireland, and the current adversity that they face.  In his own words, additional research for the book was undertaken ‘with the intensity of enthusiasm that an active socialist brings to a subject of this nature.’

The book confronts traditional historical narratives that the IRA and Dáil Éireann alone forced the British administration toward compromise.  Instead, Kostick elevates the efforts of the Irish working class and its organisers.  For instance, he presents the Belfast general strike of 1919 as a defining moment of the Irish revolution – one which redefined conceptions of nationality and identity, and would contribute to the partition of Ireland.  Kostick explains how strikes of the revolutionary period, not only in Belfast, produced social upheaval and were of much greater concern to the British cabinet than the assembly of Dáil Éireann, or the murder of a few policemen.

Other episodes expose what many would come to label products of the conservative revolution. Read More