Irish Tales (1716)
by Sarah Butler
Ian Campbell Ross, Aileen Douglas & Anne Markey, editors
‘Presented as the first in a series devoted to early Irish fiction between 1680 and 1820, both Vertue Rewarded (1693) and Irish Tales (1716) anticipate important developments in the novel form. Both are genuinely, even startlingly innovative, and based on these fine editions they will demand the attention of scholars and students across a variety of fields, including Irish literature, eighteenth-century literature, and the novel … These novels have found their ideal editors, whom I commend for producing what can only be described as exemplary editions. The introductions are perfectly judged, providing the right balance of information, much of which is the result of painstaking original research, with critical and interpretative frameworks that situate the texts and our responses to them squarely at the heart of the very latest state of knowledge on the novel and late seventeenth-century and eighteenth-century culture. The editorial notes are similarly precise and useful, and the texts themselves are presented in a highly readable format, with notes on any necessary modernizations or corrections. Readers are also provided with select bibliographies to facilitate their own further reading and research. The result of this impressive synthesis of textual and bibliographical scholarship with sophisticated and nuanced interpretative models is the transformation of these novels from little-known curiosities to texts that demand serious attention. These editions make a case for locating the origin of Irish fiction at the point of origin of the novel itself: as romance was giving way to the novel, print culture was assuming its central social significance, and the stories of the private lives of individuals were becoming an acceptable subject for literature. In the case of these early Irish novels, these themes and contexts are accompanied by an arresting awareness of the fate of conquered people and the potential of the powerful yet still emergent form of the novel to incorporate layers of cultural history and to give narrative form to the complex interactions between European countries and distant colonial locations’, Clíona Ó Gallchoir, Eighteenth-Century Fiction (March 2011).
‘These two handsome volumes [Irish Tales and Vertue Rewarded] launch what promises to be a most valuable and interesting series of editions of eighteenth-century Irish fiction, part of a much wider project on the literature of early modern Ireland, driven by leading scholars from around the world, and rooted in the collaborative industry of the Eighteenth-Century Literature Research Network in Ireland … These opening volumes display a very comprehensive scholarly framework, including critical introductions, richly annotated texts, extensive endnotes and select bibliographies … These two volumes are the beginning of what will become a very important and original contribution to eighteenth-century Irish studies. The editorial frameworks are of the very highest standard … The publisher has done a very elegant job in the production and presentation of these important texts, notably in the reproduction on the jackets of a reduced image of the original title-pages, set against a background of strong primary colours. These volumes would grace the shelves of any book-lover and scholar', Irish University Review (Summer 2011).
‘With this volume, Ross, Douglas and Markey restore Sarah Butler’s novel of romance and Irish patriotism to a worthy place in the literature of social criticism. Released here in the Early Irish Fiction, c.1680–1820 series, which makes critical editions available to scholars, this novel is remarkable for its construction and its use of history, especially its examination of the conduct of political leaders … The text of this edition follows as closely as possible the first edition; endnotes, appendixes, and a select bibliography enhance its scholarly value. This new edition of Butler’s novel will be especially important to students of 18th-century Irish and British literature and to those interested in the history of the novel. Recommended', M.H. Kealy, Choice (October 2010).