Friday, March 15, 2019

Luck and Irish Literature

The Ides of March, the 15th and 16th of this month, traditionally bode ill luck. For instance, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the emperor is warned to “Beware the Ides of March” by the Soothsayer. Julius, not being a superstitious sort of fellow and believing in his personal immortality, sneers, ignores the warning, and refers to the Soothsayer as “a dreamer.” Not Caesar’s wisest decision.

 It will soon be St. Patrick’s Day which supposedly brings good luck and fortune. People do at times have lucky things happen to them and at other times suffer misfortunes like ill health, accidents or assaults. However, authors prefer to believe that for the most part we make our own luck.


According to Napoleon: “Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity.” I apply that statement to authors. We get lucky with our work when we’ve done adequate preparation—that is being well-read, writing, rewriting, and editing until we’ve created something of value and quality. If we’re too lazy or too full of ourselves to make this kind of effort and commitment then alas we’ll never “get lucky.”

Luck is often a theme in literature. For example, Thomas Hardy created characters that were unlucky like Tess or Jude. Yet it could be argued that their bad luck came as a direct result of fatal flaws in their own characters. This is where tragedy derives from. Things don’t just happen. There is a cause and effect relationship.

I write about and admire main characters with positive values who make their own good luck and overcome obstacles through personal effort, not bemoaning their fate or bad luck. To quote Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar again, as Cassius observes: “Our fate, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”


In tribute to Irish literature which often deals with themes related to luck, I want to mention a few of the outstanding Irish writers I’ve appreciated over the years.

As an undergraduate English major, I read and enjoyed John Millington Synge’s The  Playboy of the Western World. Synge celebrated the lyrical speech of the Irish in a boisterous play.

In graduate school, I took a semester seminar on the works of William Butler Yeats, a great Irish poet. I learned a great deal about Irish mythology from his work.

George Bernard Shaw was also of Irish origins and a great playwright, another favorite of mine. His plays still hold up because of thought-provoking themes and clever dialogue.

I’ve read James Joyce’s stories and novels but most appreciated his earlier work. I thought Portrait of the Artist was brilliant as was Dubliners, his short story collection. His style was original and unique.

Satirist Jonathan Swift is often thought of as a children’s writer, but this is, of course, completely false.
Notable Works: Gulliver’s Travels, Tale of a Tub, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift.
Oscar Wilde was a talented Irish writer and playwright. Sentenced to two years in prison for gross indecency (homosexuality), he eventually lost his creative spark. Notable Works: The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Importance of Being Earnest (play), Poems, The Happy Prince and Other Tales (children’s book), A Woman of No Importance (play).
Abraham Stoker (Bram Stoker) gave us Dracula (enough said!) Lawrence Sterne, Oliver Goldsmith, C.S. Lewis all had Irish origins as well, although they left Ireland for England. The list of outstanding Irish men and women who have provided great literature is very long and therefore beyond the scope of this mere blog.
My most recent mystery novel, DEATH PROMISE, is set in Las Vegas and, surprise, luck does play a part in it. If you haven’t read it, you should—it just might bring you some luck.


Did you believe in luck? Do you have any favorite Irish authors? Your thoughts and comments welcome!


19 comments:

  1. Great blog! The Ides of March have brought auto-related bad luck to me in the way of three drivers ignoring stop signs. My next errand will be completed on foot. Other authors of Irish origins that I've read are Roddy Doyle, Frank McCourt, and Tana French. Though American-born, Anne McCaffrey migrated to Ireland in her 40s and is one of my favorite writers. Have an awesome St. Paddy's Day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes is a book you don't forget. Thanks for sharing other fine authors with us.

      Delete
  2. I also remember a book called, How the Irish Saved Civilization. Great blog post. I’m leaving for vacation, so wish me luck! Minette

    ReplyDelete
  3. Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of the readers and writers here. Irish or not, every author and every story relates in some way to luck or the absence of luck, whether it is a major theme or just a plot point, a character arc-point, or an expression in a memorable chapter. Here's to a jolly March 17, and much good luck in your future.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Saralyn,

    Your comment is true. The idea of luck figures into many works of literature.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I too believe we make our own luck and with our thoughts and words we speak our world into existence.
    Great post Jacqueline
    Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pam,

      I believe if we keep working hard to improve our work, we eventually succeed. We make luck happen.

      Delete
  6. I agree with Napoleon's definition of luck (about the only thing I share with him), and I heartily second your list of Irish writers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susan,

      Napoleon's statement is one I value. But he did overstep himself.

      Delete
  7. Nice blog post, Jacquie! I've been thinking about luck myself these last few months. With a new series concept, all those beginner feelings come back again, and you work to make your luck be the good kind. Or at least, that's what I keep telling myself. Best of luck with Death Promise. I love the cover!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Maggie,

    Wishing you look with your new series concept.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I really enjoyed Death Promise and I also admire all the wonderful Irish writers. For a small country, Ireland has an enormous output of talent. Nice post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susan,

      So glad you enjoyed Death Promise. You are right, for a small country, Ireland has produced some amazingly talented writers.

      Delete
  10. Great article, Jacqueline. You mentioned some of my favorite Irish authors. I love Ireland, too, of course. :-) Slainte!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you, Linda. Glad we share similar taste in authors.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Fantastic article. I really enjoyed it. I'm so glad you mentioned Bram Stoker, because he' probably my favorite classic Irish author. Happy St. Patrick's Day.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nice to hear from you, Cornelia! Hope you enjoyed the holiday.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Natural Herbal Medicine To Cured {HERPES DISEASE} TOTALLY HERE Website> Https://chiefdrluckyherbaltherapy.wordpress.com/ or his cell number / WhatsApp> +2348132777335
    Do you need a solution to cure your Herpes Disease contact Chief Dr Lucky to help and he will surely help you to cure your Herpes Virus .. I have suffered from Herpes-2 Virus for 4years ago that almost took my life. But one day I was searching the internet and I found Chief Dr Lucky saw so many testimonies on how Chief Dr Lucky helps people in curing their deadly diseases, and I contacted Chief Dr Lucky, asked him for solutions and he started the remedies for my health. He prepared herbal medicine for me and I received the herbal medicine and after using it for 2 weeks my condition has greatly improved, all my symptoms including Abdominal pain, Nausea and vomiting, Loss of appetite stopped, so I went to my doc and was confirmed negative. I am Herpes Virus free! contact the herbal doctor via his email> chiefdrlucky@gmail.com also visit his fb page> http://facebook.com/chiefdrlucky

    ReplyDelete