Seminario: «A darker shade of green: The past, present and future of Irish crime writing»

A cargo del Dr. David Clark (Universidad de la Coruña), organizada dentro del ciclo de conferencias «The Cultural Politics of In/difference».


Día: miércoles, 12 de diciembre de 2018
Hora: de 11.00 a 13.00 h
Lugar: salón de Grados de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras

Coinciding with the rise and fall of the period of economic boom commonly known as the ‘Celtic Tiger’, there has appeared in Ireland a large amount of varied – and often high-quality – crime fiction which has attracted a substantial agree of critical and popular attraction. Although Irish crime writers had traditionally eschewed writing about crime within an Irish context, preferring to distance their works geographically (and hence emotionally) from their native land, there has developed an increasing number of writers such as Ken Bruen, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, Tana French and Cormac Millar who are producing crime novels of consistently high quality which are being well received by the Irish reading public. As the writer and critic Declan Burke puts it, these authors are writing “books people are actually reading, as opposed to books a secretive cabal believes they should be reading” (np) and the international reputation of contemporary Irish crime fiction is growing, as can be seen in the number of languages into which many of these books are being translated and the critical reception of these works in the world’s press. Events in Northern Ireland during and after the Peace Process have also constituted a time of relative economic and social stability in the north of the island, which has also been reflected in a wide body of crime writing from this region.

It is tempting, as most of the critics who have hitherto written on this phenomenon do, to consider the situation within a vacuum, an almost spontaneous eruption of crime writing intensity which is peculiar to a specific time, place and set of socio-economic conditions. Some critics will acknowledge the influence of other ‘national’ noirs, especially Scandinavian models, or that of earlier, especially American, models, such as the classic hard-boiled detective fiction from the inter-war years. Few, however, look back to the history (and pre-history) of Irish crime writing to search for models and inspiration for the current circumstances, often dismissing earlier Irish crime writing as a derivative and insubstantial reflection of sturdier English, American and, occasionally, European examples.

It is my firm belief that this is not the case. Irish crime fiction has a long history. One of the first, pre-novelistic instances is Antrim-born Richard Head’s magnificent – and successful – The English Rogue, published in 1665 and containing one of the first picaresque narratives in the English language. The picaresque tradition – oddly fitting to the Irish condition(s) would also be represented in later narratives by William Chaigneaux in the CXVII and Charles Lever in the CXIX. The CXIX would also see writers as important and diverse as Maria Edgeworth, William Carleton and Le Fanu producing essential crime narratives. The late Victorian period, if dominated by Scottish writer Conan Doyle – of Irish origin – is notable for the achievements of writers such as Bram Stoker, Richard Dowling and, most especially L.T. Meade. The early twentieth century would see the birth of the modern spy novel – considered by most critics to be a vital part of the crime genre – and Irish diplomat (and future revolutionary martyr) Erskine Childers’ The Riddle of the Sands providing a model for later writers from Buchan to Fleming and Le Carré. The Golden Age of detective fiction was not just Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers as Irish writers such as C. Day Lewis and Freeman Wills Croft represented two different – but vitally important – tendencies within the subgenre. The revolutionary period is also represented – and the conflicting writings of Republican, Anglo-Irish and disenchanted neutral crime writers can be used as a kind of litmus paper to the events and procrastinations during the period.

Irish crime writing starts to find its modern voice, I will argue, in the late 1940s and 1950s, and it is from such relatively unknown and unacknowledged masters such as Nigel Fitzgerald and John Welcome would pave the way for writers of the seventies and eighties who would continue to give an increasingly important Irish dimension to crime writing from the island. The current – and hugely important – rise in Irish crime fiction is part of a long, varied, and highly relevant tradition which is already starting to look to the future, a future in which revolutionary electronic texts rub shoulders with narratives of a more traditional format but, often self-published form and which beg questions regarding the future status of the genre both in Ireland and on a global scale.


El Dr. David Clark es profesor titular en la Universidade da Coruña y Director del Instituto Universitario de Estudios Irlandeses Amergin, el único centro de investigación superior en el ámbito de los Estudios Irlandeses en España. Especialista en literatura y cultura irlandesa y escocesa, gran parte de su producción se centra en diversas iniciativas culturales (programas de radio, televisión, artículos y entrevistas en prensa) con el propósito de acercar la cultura española e irlandesa y escocesa. En los últimos años, se ha convertido en uno de los más reputados investigadores en España en torno al género de la novela negra y su impacto económico, político y social en dichas culturas.


Contacto: Dr. Rubén Jarazo ( y Dra. Aida Rosende ( 

Data de l'esdeveniment: 12/12/2018

Data de publicació: Wed Sep 26 10:42:00 CEST 2018