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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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Louis MacNeice: The Living Curve

Louis MacNeice: The Living Curve

(p.28) CHAPTER 3 Louis MacNeice: The Living Curve
Irish Poetry of the 1930s

Alan Gillis (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Seamus Heaney’s idea of Louis MacNeice as a vital means of holding Ulster, Ireland, and England within the purview of a single imagination. It argues that such an idea, to be accurate, must register MacNeice’s extreme antagonism towards Ulster and Ireland. This antagonism is contextualized within the intense culture of propaganda and rising ideological terror throughout the 1930s. Such a context spurs MacNeice’s interest in the relationship between empiricism and abstraction, which is key to his aesthetics. The chapter traces the multifaceted idea of time in his verse and explores his poetry’s simultaneous striving towards representing newness and registering social reality. Focusing on the figuration and musicality of his poems, the centrality of these to his growing political commitment is discussed, moving into a major interpretation of his masterpiece Autumn Journal. His critical treatment of Ireland is then contextualized within his broader concern for the political agency of poetry in general.

Keywords:   Louis MacNeice, the 1930s, aesthetics, poetic form, Autumn Journal, Adorno, Seamus Heaney

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