Agallamh Oisín agus Phádraig: readings from the paratext

Síle Ní Mhurchú


In this paper, Gérard Genette’s concept of the paratext is used to analyse the manuscript copies of Agallamh Oisín agus Phádraig (The Dialogue of Oisín and Saint Patrick). These paratexts show that there was more to the work of a scribe than simple copying: many of the scribes engaged deeply with the historical and intellectual currents of their time. The different ways in which the Agallamh texts were presented over the years are discussed as well as the paratextual writings — titles, introductions, textual notes, translations, and other texts — that were appended to it. The paratext provided scribes with a space in which they could influence patrons and other readers and the main themes that emerge from an analysis of the Agallamh’s paratexts are: the scribes’ accounts of their craft; changes in textual layout under the influence of print culture; the English language in the paratext; references to the works of James Macpherson; the decline of the Irish language. Finally, the question of whether these paratextual writings can reveal the emotional responses of readers and listeners to the Agallamh is considered.

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ISSN: 2009-8626