The Wireless Past: Anglo-Irish Writers and the BBC, by Emily C Bloom
WB Yeats: the poet makes a radio recording. Photograph: Culture Club/Getty
The Wireless Past: Anglo-Irish Writers and the BBC, 1931-1968
Emily C Bloom
Oxford University Press
Emily Bloom’s The Wireless Past is a study of the relationship between the BBC and the Anglo-Irish authors WB Yeats, Louis MacNeice, Elizabeth Bowen and Samuel Beckett during the transitional period from 1931 to 1968. “Although rarely treated as a group, and distinct in terms of their politics and aesthetics,” Bloom points out, “these writers are bound together by their extensive engagement with the radio medium and by their identity as Protestant Irish writers, chronic émigrés who persistently or permanently left Ireland, and as modernists.”
Radio became a significant site for redefining literary networks
The advent of radio reinvigorated modernist literature and enabled new forms of response to modern Irish experience. Bloom argues, “As a medium traversing the newly minted national boundaries between Ireland and Britain, radio became a significant site for redefining literary networks” connecting the two states. Radio is a medium that is at once intimate and designed for the masses. Accordingly, via what she terms “close listening” techniques, Bloom explores the paradoxes of Irish radio modernism in a way that is accessible, insightful, and highly readable.