Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction

Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction is a lively discussion of the debates about the uses of the past contained in British fiction since the Falklands crisis. Drawing on a diverse and original body of work, Suzanne Keen provides a detailed examination of the range of contemporary ‘romances of the archive,’ a genre in which British novelists both deal with the loss of Empire and a nostalgia for the past, and react to the postimperial condition of Great Britain. Keen identifies the genre and explains its literary sources from Edmund Spenser to H.P. Lovecraft and John LeCarre. She also accounts for the rise in popularity of the archival romance and provides a context for understanding the British postimperial preoccupation with history and heritage.

Avoiding a narrow focus on postmodernist fiction alone, Keen treats archival romances from A.S. Byatt’s Booker Prize-winning Possession to the paperback thrillers of popular novelists. Using the work of Peter Ackroyd, Julian Barnes, Lindsay Clarke, Stevie Davies, Peter Dickinson, Alan Hollinghurst, P.D. James, Graham Swift, and others, Keen shows how archival romances insist that there is a truth and that it can be found. By characterizing the researcher who investigates, then learns the joys, costs, and consequences of discovery, Romances of the Archive persistently questions the purposes of historical knowledge and the kind of reading that directs the imagination to conceive the past.


The Spinning Heart

Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2013
Shortlisted for the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award 2014
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013
Winner of Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2012

“My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn’t yet missed a day of letting me down.”

In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.

The Spinning Heart speaks for contemporary Ireland like no other novel. Wry, vulnerable, all-too human, it captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and with uncanny perception articulates the words and thoughts of a generation. Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark and sweetly poignant.

Donal Ryan’s brilliantly realized debut announces a stunning new voice in literary fiction.


The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry

The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry features the work of three Nobel laureates – W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney – as well as Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Moore, Patrick Kavanagh, Louis MacNeice, Eavan Boland and James Joyce. It also includes epigrams, traditional verses and Old Irish songs, with 250 new English translations by the greatest poets currently working, including Seamus Heaney and Ciarán Carson.

Reflecting everything from Ireland’s rich history of writing about the land, to its untypical prominence of women in and writing its poetry, and the abundance of oppositions that have preoccupied its verse through the ages (from Christian and pre-Christian attitudes, to Gaels and Vikings, Nationalism and Unionism, Catholicism and Protestantism, the Irish and English languages) this is an inclusive and masterfully arranged collection of Irish verse. The Penguin Book of Irish Poetryis an indispensable and important guide to the country’s unparalleled literary culture.


The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period

During the four centuries when printed paper was the only means by which texts could be carried across time and distance, everyone engaged in politics, education, religion, and literature believed that reading helped to shape the minds, opinions, attitudes, and ultimately the actions, of readers. In this 2004 book, William St Clair investigates how the national culture can be understood through a quantitative study of the books that were actually read. Centred on the Romantic period in the English-speaking world, but ranging across the whole print era, it reaches startling conclusions about the forces that determined how ideas were carried, through print, into wider society. St Clair provides an in-depth investigation of information, made available here for the first time, on prices, print runs, intellectual property, and readerships gathered from over fifty publishing and printing archives. He offers a picture of the past very different from those presented by traditional approaches. Indispensable to students of English literature, book history, and the history of ideas, the study’s conclusions and explanatory models are highly relevant to the issues we face in the age of the internet.