The Irish through British Eyes: Perceptions of Ireland in the Famine Era

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9780275976347: The Irish through British Eyes: Perceptions of Ireland in the Famine Era
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The mainstream British attitude toward the Irish in the first half of the 1840s was based upon the belief in Irish improvability. Most educated British rejected any notion of Irish racial inferiority and insisted that under middle-class British tutelage the Irish would in time reach a standard of civilization approaching that of Britain. However, the potato famine of 1846-1852, which coincided with a number of external and domestic crises that appeared to threaten the stability of Great Britain, led a large portion of the British public to question the optimistic liberal attitude toward the Irish. Rhetoric concerning the relationship between the two peoples would change dramatically as a result.

Prior to the famine, the perceived need to maintain the Anglo-Irish union, and the subservience of the Irish, was resolved by resort to a gendered rhetoric of marriage. Many British writers accordingly portrayed the union as a natural, necessary and complementary bond between male and female, maintaining the appearance if not the substance of a partnership of equals. With the coming of the famine, the unwillingness of the British government and public to make the sacrifices necessary, not only to feed the Irish but to regenerate their island, was justified by assertions of Irish irredeemability and racial inferiority. By the 1850s, Ireland increasingly appeared not as a member of the British family of nations in need of uplifting, but as a colony whose people were incompatible with the British and needed to be kept in place by force of arms.

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About the Author:

EDWARD G. LENGEL is an assistant editor with the Papers of George Washington documentary editing project in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Review:

"Lengel has written a thoughtful account of the paradigm shift in educated British opinion about Ireland during the famine era (1845-52). Studying pamphlets, newspapers, and periodicals published in the 1840s and 1850s, along with unpublished manuscript sources, he demonstrates the swing during the famine years from sympathetic, gently condescending attitudes toward the Irish to derisive hostility. A racist paradigm--frequently comparing the Irish to Africans--held by a small minority in 1845 metamorphosed in less than a decade into a majority position. Lengel attributes this 180-degree swing partly to defensiveness over British famine policy's vacillations and failures, but more to fear of the "moral contamination" of mass Irish Catholic migration to Britain or of losing control over "John Bull's other island" to Irish republicans or foreign powers. Alluded to by Christine Kinealy, Richard Ned Lebow, Cormac O'Grada, and other recent historians, these themes are clearly spelled out in a work mercifully free of poststructuralist jargon. Recommended for all Irish history collections, upper-division undergraduates and above."-Choice

"Describes how patronizing notions of Irish "improvability" changed with the advent of famine in the late 1840s."-The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Edward Lengel's The Irish through British Eyes makes a significant contribution to our understanding of a pivotal period in British and Irish in Victorian Lancashire would have been enchanced if Lengel's skillful analysis had been available."-Albion

?Describes how patronizing notions of Irish "improvability" changed with the advent of famine in the late 1840s.?-The Chronicle of Higher Education

?Edward Lengel's The Irish through British Eyes makes a significant contribution to our understanding of a pivotal period in British and Irish in Victorian Lancashire would have been enchanced if Lengel's skillful analysis had been available.?-Albion

?Lengel documents how the newspaper helped to harden English attitudes, thereby exacerbating the famine. His scathing critique is grounded in careful research, the breadth of which is admirable; he has surveyed fiction, political and economic tracts, travel writing, historical and scientific monographs, select periodicals, and manuscript sources (including Peel's Russel's and Times editor Delane's papers, as well as Home Office files at the Public Records Office). The parameters of his study also suggest interesting avenues for further research, including poetic, working-class, and Irish representations of Ireland during this period....[v]aluable contribution to the fields of nineteenth-century Irish studies, political history, and the Victorian periodical press, university libraries will undoubtedly wish to add it to their collections.?-Victorian Periodicals Review

?Lengel has written a thoughtful account of the paradigm shift in educated British opinion about Ireland during the famine era (1845-52). Studying pamphlets, newspapers, and periodicals published in the 1840s and 1850s, along with unpublished manuscript sources, he demonstrates the swing during the famine years from sympathetic, gently condescending attitudes toward the Irish to derisive hostility. A racist paradigm--frequently comparing the Irish to Africans--held by a small minority in 1845 metamorphosed in less than a decade into a majority position. Lengel attributes this 180-degree swing partly to defensiveness over British famine policy's vacillations and failures, but more to fear of the "moral contamination" of mass Irish Catholic migration to Britain or of losing control over "John Bull's other island" to Irish republicans or foreign powers. Alluded to by Christine Kinealy, Richard Ned Lebow, Cormac O'Grada, and other recent historians, these themes are clearly spelled out in a work mercifully free of poststructuralist jargon. Recommended for all Irish history collections, upper-division undergraduates and above.?-Choice

"Lengel documents how the newspaper helped to harden English attitudes, thereby exacerbating the famine. His scathing critique is grounded in careful research, the breadth of which is admirable; he has surveyed fiction, political and economic tracts, travel writing, historical and scientific monographs, select periodicals, and manuscript sources (including Peel's Russel's and Times editor Delane's papers, as well as Home Office files at the Public Records Office). The parameters of his study also suggest interesting avenues for further research, including poetic, working-class, and Irish representations of Ireland during this period....[v]aluable contribution to the fields of nineteenth-century Irish studies, political history, and the Victorian periodical press, university libraries will undoubtedly wish to add it to their collections."-Victorian Periodicals Review

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Book Description ABC-CLIO, United States, 2002. Hardback. Condition: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. The mainstream British attitude toward the Irish in the first half of the 1840s was based upon the belief in Irish improvability. Most educated British rejected any notion of Irish racial inferiority and insisted that under middle-class British tutelage the Irish would in time reach a standard of civilization approaching that of Britain. However, the potato famine of 1846-1852, which coincided with a number of external and domestic crises that appeared to threaten the stability of Great Britain, led a large portion of the British public to question the optimistic liberal attitude toward the Irish. Rhetoric concerning the relationship between the two peoples would change dramatically as a result. Prior to the famine, the perceived need to maintain the Anglo-Irish union, and the subservience of the Irish, was resolved by resort to a gendered rhetoric of marriage. Many British writers accordingly portrayed the union as a natural, necessary and complementary bond between male and female, maintaining the appearance if not the substance of a partnership of equals. With the coming of the famine, the unwillingness of the British government and public to make the sacrifices necessary, not only to feed the Irish but to regenerate their island, was justified by assertions of Irish irredeemability and racial inferiority. By the 1850s, Ireland increasingly appeared not as a member of the British family of nations in need of uplifting, but as a colony whose people were incompatible with the British and needed to be kept in place by force of arms. Seller Inventory # APC9780275976347

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Book Description Praeger. Hardcover. Condition: New. 264 pages. Dimensions: 9.3in. x 6.2in. x 0.8in.The mainstream British attitude toward the Irish in the first half of the 1840s was based upon the belief in Irish improvability. Most educated British rejected any notion of Irish racial inferiority and insisted that under middle-class British tutelage the Irish would in time reach a standard of civilization approaching that of Britain. However, the potato famine of 1846-1852, which coincided with a number of external and domestic crises that appeared to threaten the stability of Great Britain, led a large portion of the British public to question the optimistic liberal attitude toward the Irish. Rhetoric concerning the relationship between the two peoples would change dramatically as a result. Prior to the famine, the perceived need to maintain the Anglo-Irish union, and the subservience of the Irish, was resolved by resort to a gendered rhetoric of marriage. Many British writers accordingly portrayed the union as a natural, necessary and complementary bond between male and female, maintaining the appearance if not the substance of a partnership of equals. With the coming of the famine, the unwillingness of the British government and public to make the sacrifices necessary, not only to feed the Irish but to regenerate their island, was justified by assertions of Irish irredeemability and racial inferiority. By the 1850s, Ireland increasingly appeared not as a member of the British family of nations in need of uplifting, but as a colony whose people were incompatible with the British and needed to be kept in place by force of arms. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Hardcover. Seller Inventory # 9780275976347

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