The Best Are Leaving: Emigration and Post-War Irish Culture
Clair Wills's The Best Are Leaving is an important and wide-ranging study of post-war Irish emigrant culture. Wills analyses representations of emigrants from Ireland and of Irish immigrants in Britain across a range of discourses, including official documents, sociological texts, clerical literature, journalism, drama, literary fiction, and popular literature and film. This book, written by a leading critic of Irish literature and culture, discusses topics such as the loss of the finest people from rural Ireland and the destruction of traditional communities; the anxieties of women emigrants and their desire for the benefits of modern consumer society; the stereotype of the drunken Irishman; the charming and authentic country Irish in the city; and the ambiguous meanings of Irish Catholicism in England, which was viewed as both a threatening and civilising force. Wills explores this theme of emigration through writers as diverse as M. J. Molloy, John B. Keane, Tom Murphy, and Edna O'Brien.