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Irish Poetry of the 1930s$
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Alan Gillis

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199277094

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199277094.001.0001

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Poetic History, Ireland, and the Thirties

Poetic History, Ireland, and the Thirties

(p.6) CHAPTER 2 Poetic History, Ireland, and the Thirties
Irish Poetry of the 1930s

Alan Gillis (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the English bias in current conceptions of the literature of the 1930s. It recasts the historical context of the 1930s in terms of global events and proceeds to locate Irish literary history within this broader context. A revisionary overview of Irish history during the decade is offered, followed by a critique of prevailing literary approaches, which are seen to simplify Irish poetry of the time by creating a sharp split between Irish modernist poets and overtly ‘Celtic’ poets. This simplified dichotomy censors the kind of complications found in Louis MacNeice and W. B. Yeats, among others, and an argument for their central importance is made. The chapter then proposes a new method of literary historiography based on aesthetic form, seeking to fuse the tenets of New Criticism and Marxist aesthetics, and adapting ideas from Fredric Jameson’s The Political Unconscious and Hayden White’s Metahistory to explore how poetry represents history.

Keywords:   modernism, aesthetics, poetic form, metahistory, Celticism, revisionism, Marxism

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