Modern Irish Literature: Sources and Founders marks the culmination of the lifetime interest of the distinguished scholar Vivian Mercier (1919-89) in the influence of Gaelic literature on modern Irish writing.
Building on the insights developed in his classic The Irish Comic Tradition, in which he traced the continuity of attitudes and subjects of Irish writers from pre-Christian times to the present, Professor Mercier's focus here is on the research of nineteenth-century scholars which gave rise to the revival of Irish literature in English. Separate chapters analysing the work of writers including Bernard Shaw, Yeats, Synge, Joyce, and Beckett build to provide a fresh and timely picture of Irish literary tradition.
Informed by a wealth and diversity of scholarship, and written in a highly accessible style, the book stands as a memorial to the achievement of Vivian Mercier and as an important contribution to the study of Irish literature.
`handsomely produced ... carries a comprehensive bibliography and ... notes ... a fine monument to a splendid man.
`This book is distinctive because it recognises the Protestant character of major Irish writing'
'Ellis Dillon has done a fine job. This is a fitting memorial to the man who wrote The Irish Comic Tradition (1962) and whose approach was always an attractive mixture of enthusiasm and erudition.'
Sharon Barnes, In Dublin, May/June 1994
'Mercier was one of the last of the gentleman scholars ... What one gets ... is the presence of a genial, well-stocked, humane mind lovingly immersed in its subject-matter, unbuttoned and anecdotal but painstaking in its scholarship. The volume is crammed with minor delights.'
London Review of Books
'Mercier is a throughgoing Shavian, yet maintains a fondly sceptical distance ... The book is handsomely produced ... it carries a comprehensive bibliography and the notes are where they should be - at the foot of the page. It is a fine monument to a splendid man, and the only pity is that we shall not have that final volume.'
John Banville, Sunday Times
'This is a fitting memorial to the man who wrote The Irish Comic Tradition (1962) and whose approach was always an attractive mixture of enthusiasm and erudition.'
Carol Barnes, In Dublin
'Mercier introduces a compelling emphasis on the Protestant evangelical influence within Anglo-Irish Literature'
'Mercier's generous and serious application to Irish yielded very rich dividends. Though it is hard to give a fair representation of Mercier's lively felicities in a short review, they are the informing spirit of the book.'
Times Literary Supplement
`The range and quality of Vivian Mercier's mind are evident in this posthumous book which is relaxed in manner and generous in spirit. Mercier's wide reading in French literature is always evident.'
Notes and Queries
`this handsome volume stands as an enduring testament to the writing lives of the two people who predeceased it...The scholar and the critic cannot be separated; in this wonderful book, they read as one in the strong voice which was among the very first to proclaim the value of Anglo-Irish literature as a subject worthy of study in its own right.'
Irish University Review