Dublin Book Festival
Friday, 11 November at 6.30 pm
RDS Library, Ballsbridge, Dublin
The RDS Library and Archives (in association with the Dublin Book Festival) will host the Irish launch of Balkan Essays by Hubert Butler, the sixth collection of his non-fiction, published by The Irish Pages Press with the generous support of The Lilliput Press. The book launch will be followed by a screening at 7.30 of the remarkable film, Hubert Butler: Witness to the Future (which premiered at the 2016 Dublin International Film Festival), followed by a short post-show discussion on Butler by director Johnny Gogan, writer Christopher Fitz-Simon and poet Chris Agee, Editor of Irish Pages and The Irish Pages Press.
Born and raised in Kilkenny, Hubert Butler (1900-91) – once described as “Ireland’s Orwell” – is now widely considered one of the great essayists in English of the twentieth century. Proud of his Protestant heritage while still deeply committed to the Irish nation, he sought in his life and writing to ensure that Ireland would grow into an open and pluralistic society. His five previous volumes of essays (The Lilliput Press) are masterful literature in the tradition of Swift, Yeats and Shaw, elegant and humane readings of Irish and European history, and ultimately hopeful testimony to human progress.
Balkan Essays includes 37 essays, written between 1937 and 1990, amongst them some of Butler’s greatest work. Just over three-quarters of the book has appeared in the five previous collections of Butler’s essays, but the remainder has never previously been collected. For the first time, the extraordinary body of Butler’s Balkan work – written over a half century – is brought together in a single volume.
In Gogan’s unique and remarkable film, Butler’s life and work are brought to the big screen for the first time. The film follows his writer’s journey from his Anglo-Irish childhood and study at Oxford; through his time in Stalinist Russia (where he worked as a teacher), interwar Yugoslavia, and Nazi Germany (where he helped expedite the escape of Jews); to his later life as a market-gardener, writer and public intellectual at Maidenhall, Co Kilkenny, where his family had lived for a century and a half.
Admission to the event is free, but booking is required through the RDS:
Balkan Essays can be ordered on this website under “Archive and Order”.