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Memory and Remembering in Early Irish Literature.

Beyond the Backward Look

by Sarah K├╝nzler
De Gruyter 2024


Ireland possesses an early and exceptionally rich medieval vernacular tradition in which memory plays a key role. What attitudes to remembering and forgetting are expressed in secular early Irish texts? How do the texts conceptualise the past and what does this conceptualisation tell us about the present and future? Who mediates and validates different versions of the past and how is future remembrance guaranteed? This study approaches such questions through close readings of individual texts. It centres on three major aspects of medieval Irish memory culture: places and landscapes, the provision of information about the past by miraculously old eye-witnesses, and the personal, social and cultural impact of forgetting. The discussions shed light on the relationship between memory and forgetting and explore the connections between the past, present and future. This shows the fascinating spatio-temporal identity constructions in medieval Ireland and links the Irish texts to the broader European world. The monograph makes this rich literary sources available to an interdisciplinary audience and is of interest to both a general medievalist audience and those working in Cultural Memory Studies.

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