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Customer Review

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cultural history of Anglo Irish relations, 27 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Castle Rackrent (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
A social satire on Anglo-Irish relations during early nineteenth century, the asks the qustion 'What is is to be Irish'? A period of great social turmoil between the two countries heightened by the industrial revolution's impression on the working classes in England, the novel sees the author navigating through a difficult minefield writing an Irish catholic narrator for an English market place! The Anglo-Irish Rackrent landlords claim an Irish Catholic heritage, but forfeit that personal history for the ephemeral run of the estate. The disenfranchised tenant farmers are forced to yield their produce to support the Rackrents' absurd behaviours. In the middle of this dynamic stand the novel's two most developed and challenging characters, Sir Condy Rackrent and Jason McQuirk, Thady's son. Raised in identical circumstances, these two leave open to question the ultimate judgment on the future of Ireland; With Condy as a new line of Irish aristocracy or Jason, representing the model for the 'British' assimilated Irishman.
Edgeworth carefully navigates herself around the novel opening the question of Irishness to the English reader without alienating either audience through the use of a glossary and internal footnotes which are devices used to try and neutralize the foreignness and threat of the Irish for Edgeworth's intended English audience, and allow us also an attempt also to understand this position of 'Irishness'.
This book is truly a classic piece of social satire that should not be overlooked byt anybody wishing to learn more about the history of Anglo-Irish relations.
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