Customer Review

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment., 13 Jun. 2008
This review is from: That Neutral Island: A Cultural History of Ireland During the Second World War (Hardcover)
I was very much looking forward to getting an Irish perspective of the country during "The Emergency". I was disappointed therefore to find little in the way of history and found myself reading instead what transpired to be a handbook of WW2 Irish literary criticism. As Clair Wills is a professor of literature by trade, I suppose I should have been more prepared for what amounts to a rather narrow window on the WW2 Irish experience. It is a common mistake among devotees of the arts to give too much credence to fictional works as sources of historical fact and Wills has fallen into this trap. I found myself skipping page after page of quoted passages of frankly unreadable sub standard period literature which served only to blow out of all proportion the importance both then and now of some very minor literary figures. The case of Elizabeth Bowen is a good example of this - Bowen is hardly a household name and yet Wills refers to her work frequently and also swallows hook line and sinker Bowen's own propaganda regarding her "war work" which was in fact very inconsequential and certainly didn't merit the "intelligence gathering" tag. By contrast the Luftwaffe bombing of Dublin and the effect this must have had on the populace is given comparitively scant coverage - hardly a cultural history then but more a period history of Wills' own preferred subject, namely Irish Literature. This is a real shame because if one sifts out the overblown literary passages, there are some very useful and interesting pieces of information and facts as well as all too little coverage on the media of the time which was certainly worthy of further exploration. A more solid basis of Irish popular opinion, other than those quoted by Wills' favourite writes, would have been of interest too.
In short this was a wasted opportunity to deliver what could have been a definitive work on one of the most fascinating periods of Irish history. A more honest title might have been "How the Emergency Affected the Works of Elizabeth Bowen and other 1940s Irish Writers". But then that might not have sold as well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments

Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Apr 2010 16:04:34 BDT
It's a great pity this reviewer skipped over the many passages Clair Wills quoted from what the reviewer described as "substandard period literature." Whether the literature was of a high or not-so-high standard, it reveals much about Irish society in that period. Perhaps the book's subtitle should have been "A Literary History of Ireland During World War II." Such a subtitle, however, would have concealed the richness and breadth of Clair Wills' work. The reviewer's dismissal of Elizabeth Bowen as "hardly a household name" seems almost petty and points, I think, to a personal prejudice that is far from helpful in a review. Elizabeth Bowen wrote some of the most sensitive and interesting descriptions of life in Ireland (and England) ever written.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Nov 2010 10:50:24 GMT
I haven't read the book. I've read the three reviews. I could be wrong but I have a very strong impression that Mr Sommerville has given an accurate account of the nature of the book and the other two reviewers have not. Thank you, Mr Sommerville, for saving me from buying a book that would not have interested me.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

3.8 out of 5 stars (12 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 5,875,873