What relationship exists, or could exist, between the individual writer and the tradition that the writer follows? And how do readers respond to that aspect of the writer's work. Insofar as the literary tradition in Irish is splintered, for a good part, and many Irish-language writers and readers are separated from the oral tradition of the Gaeltacht and with the old literature, more or less, the question is more complicated than it would be in other languages that do not have a history of colonialism behind them.
With that, there is a certain discomfort with regard to the question of tradition since the adaptation of Irish language literature during the revival and different writers have responded in various ways to the challenge of adapting a minority language and colonised culture for themselves and their readers.
In Ag Caint leis an Simné? Dúshlán an Traidisiúin agus Nualitríocht na Gaeilge, Louis de Paor tackles this question by analysing the work of major poets and prose writer in the Irish language - works by Seán Ó Ríordáin, Liam S. Gógan, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Máirtín Ó Direáin, Máirtín Ó Cadhain and Brian Ó Nualláin (Myles na gCopaleen) - to see how they resolved this question in their own work, if indeed they succeeded in resolving it.
Louis de Paor is the director of the Centre for Irish Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway.
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