Posts Tagged ‘Diarmid Ferriter’

Black and white and read all over?

20 July 2010

By Juliana Adelman

You may recall the controversy a couple of years ago when the French academic, Pierre Bayard, published a book in which he claimed to deliver lectures on books he had never read.  How to talk about books you’ve never read purported to advise the ‘chattering classes’ on how to maintain literary pretensions.  If you read the fine print, Bayard says that he writes through a fictional character: he never actually admitted to being what he called a ‘nonreader’.  Nonetheless, he struck a nerve and the book became a bestseller in French and English.  A number of related articles and surveys have appeared, which seem to demonstrate that lots of people routinely lie about what they have and have not read.  A piece in the Guardian, for example, looked at an English survey that found 42% of respondents had falsely claimed to have read George Orwell’s Nineteen eighty-four.  Why ignorance of this particular book is so embarassing to English people, I cannot quite grasp.

Anyway, we in Pue’s were discussing a similar subject of late and wondering what books in Irish history were read a lot less frequently than they were either purchased or discussed.  Some of us have had the experience of reading an oft-discussed text only to discover it did not appear to say much of what others seemed to remember that it did.   Leading us to of course conclude that many people had not read the text in question, merely repeated what they had heard or had read in other books.  See, we academics didn’t need to read Bayard’s book.  We’re already experts in talking about things we haven’t read.  What is it that makes a book a classic, though?  Is it the actual content, or is it the popularity of the few sentence summary that everyone remembers? Read more

Review: Part 3 of The Limits of Liberty, RTÉ1

24 June 2010

Contributed by Adrian Grant

(Review of Part 3 of The Limits of Liberty, broadcast on  RTÉ1, Tuesday 15 June, 10:15 pm.)

The concluding episode of The Limits of Liberty concentrated on the second half of the twentieth century when, Ferriter argues, Irish people were more willing directly to directly challenge the power of the state. Workers’ struggles, public protests, feminism, sexual liberation, and great changes in the legal system all feature here, though none could be pursued with great detail in a fifty minute documentary. Moreover, many other aspects of life in the second half of the twentieth century were omitted from the programme. For example, Ireland’s entry to the EEC was portrayed as a Godsend for Ireland. There was no coverage or discussion of the opposition to Ireland joining the EEC. The idea that mass collective action only emerged in the second half of the twentieth century ignores the fact that the late 1920s and 1930s saw very similar groups marching in Dublin with similar demands. The Unemployed Workers’ Committee, which was established in 1957, was very similar to the unemployed groups of previous decades. Read more