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Robert Fagles Memorial Lecture by Fintan O’Toole

February 26, 2021 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

fintan with greying hair and serious gaze wears glasses and white collar shirt with blazer
Photo courtesy Fintan O’Toole

Scholar and critic Fintan O’Toole delivers the annual Robert Fagles Memorial Lecture on “A Century of Partition” as part of Princeton University’s 2020-21 Fund for Irish Studies series. O’Toole, one of Ireland’s leading public intellectuals, is a columnist for The Irish Times and Leonard L. Milberg ’53 visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton.

In 1921, Ireland was divided by the formation of Northern Ireland as a new political entity in the Protestant-dominated northeastern part of the island. This led to the creation of two sectarian states, each dominated by a single religious culture. The production by the revolutionary James Connolly that partition would create “a carnival of reaction” on both sides of the Border was not far wrong. The Troubles of 1968-1998 served merely to deepen the divide. But Brexit has raised new questions about the future of the UK and therefore of Partition. The contradictions that were frozen in 1921 have emerged anew in 2021.

Fintan O’Toole, one of Ireland’s leading public intellectuals, is a columnist for The Irish Times and Leonard L. Milberg ’53 visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton. He also contributes to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, and other international publications. His books on theater include works on William Shakespeare, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Thomas Murphy. His books on politics include the best sellers Ship of Fools, Enough is Enough and The Politics of Pain: Postwar England and the Rise of Nationalism. In 2011, The Observer named O’Toole one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals.” He has received the A.T. Cross Award for Supreme Contribution to Irish Journalism, the Millennium Social Inclusion Award, and Journalist of the Year in 2010, the Orwell Prize and the European Press Prize. O’Toole’s History of Ireland in 100 Objects, which covers 100 highly charged artifacts from the last 10,000 years, is currently the basis for Ireland’s postage stamps. His most recent book is Judging Shaw: The Radicalism of GBS, published by the Royal Irish Academy, and he is the official biographer of Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney.


This virtual event is free and open to the public. Join the lecture via Zoom Webinar; registration required.


This event is recorded for archival purposes only and will not be available for viewing after the event.


The event includes live closed captions in English. If you are in need of other access accommodations in order to participate in this event, please contact the Lewis Center at 609-258-5262 or email LewisCenter@princeton.edu at least 2 weeks in advance of the event date.


The Fund for Irish Studies affords all Princeton students, and the community at large, a wider and deeper sense of the languages, literatures, drama, visual arts, history, politics, and economics not only of Ireland but of “Ireland in the world.” The series is produced by the Lewis Center for the Arts and the 2020-21 edition of the series is organized by Paul Muldoon.

The Fund for Irish Studies is generously sponsored by the Durkin Family Trust and the James J. Kerrigan, Jr. ’45 and Margaret M. Kerrigan Fund for Irish Studies.



February 26, 2021
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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