Emergency Writing

E-book – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3727-1

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3726-4

Paper Text – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3725-7
Publication Date
June 2018
Page Count
280 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Emergency Writing

Irish Literature, Neutrality, and the Second World War
Anna Teekell

Taking seriously Ireland’s euphemism for World War II, “the Emergency,” Anna Teekell’s Emergency Writing asks both what happens to literature written during a state of emergency and what it means for writing to be a response to an emergency.

Anchored in close textual analysis of works by Samuel Beckett, Elizabeth Bowen, Flann O’Brien, Louis MacNeice, Denis Devlin, and Patrick Kavanagh, and suppported by archival material and historical research, Emergency Writing shows how Irish late modernism was a response to the sociopolitical conditions of a newly independent Irish Free State and to a fully emerged modernism in literature and art.

What emerges in Irish writing in the wake of Independence, of the Gaelic Revival, of Yeats and of Joyce, is a body of work that invokes modernism as a set of discursive practices with which to counter the Free State’s political pieties. Emergency Writing provides a new approach to literary modernism and to the literature of conflict, considering the ethical dilemma of performing neutrality—emotionally, politically, and rhetorically—in a world at war.

About the Author

ANNA TEEKELL is an assistant professor of English at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia.

“An engaged reading of the politics of language use in Ireland during World War II, Emergency Writing demonstrates how the war years mark a particular moment of emergence in post-independence Irish writing, as the legacy of literary modernism comes to empower diverse stylistic challenges to official narratives of Irish identity.” –Damien Keane, author of Ireland and the Problem of Information

"This incisive study brilliantly proves that Irish neutrality during the Second World War was anything but apolitical.  Illuminatingly, Anna Teekell shows how the war writings of Patrick Kavanagh, Elizabeth Bowen, Denis Devlin, Louis MacNeice, Samuel Beckett and Flann O’Brien are coded and grapple in differing ways with the ambiguities of neutrality. Teekell’s book is timely and provocative given her argument that neutrality was never a license for disengagement and that it still plays a key but thorny role in Ireland’s positioning of itself in European and international affairs. –Anne Fogarty, University College Dublin

"Emergency Writing is an ambitious, wide-ranging, and highly readable account of how mid-century Irish literature responded to wartime neutrality. Surveying the major Irish poetry and fiction of the Second World War, from Patrick Kavanagh to Elizabeth Bowen, Anna Teekell describes a late modernism of ambiguity and anxiety, paradox and purgatorial suspension. This is a fresh and eloquent contribution to the field of modernist studies, and a valuable expansion of our understanding of what it means to write about war."  –Marina MacKay, author of Modernism and World War II

"Elegant, wry, and insightful, Emergency Writing returns to a crucial moment in the history of Ireland. In this urgent and discerning account of neutrality as a political practice, Teekell demonstrates how nascent statehood is interlaced with questions of diplomacy, independence, and, above all, culture." –Allan Hepburn, Allan Hepburn, James McGill Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature, McGill University