After Yeats and Joyce: Reading Modern Irish Literature

By Neil Corcoran | Go to book overview

3
Lyrical Fields and Featherbeds: Representations of the Rural and the Provincial

The world looks on And talks of the peasant: The peasant has no worries; In his little lyrical fields He ploughs and sows . . . Without the peasant base civilisation must die, Unless the clay is in the mouth the singer's singing is useless. ( Patrick Kavanagh, The Great Hunger) . . . the soft smother of the provincial featherbed. (Sean O'Faolain, Vive Moi!)


I. Image, Counter-Image

One of the main aims of the Irish Literary Revival had been to establish a literature in English which was nevertheless distinctively Irish; and one of the primary ways in which this aim had been advanced, notably in Yeats's poetry, was by providing an image of Irish rural life -- particularly of life in the West -- which would act as a model for various types of moral and artistic behaviour. The rural image would represent a tested, endured solitude and the generous supportiveness of community; the patient effort of labour and the nobility of suffering; the ideal of dedication and the reward of courage. Yeats's imagery of the West and his portrayal of its heroized figures -- such as the Connemara hero of the poem 'The Fisherman', a 'wise and simple man' invented in contradistinction to the 'insolent', opportunistic urban society Yeats presents himself as enduring

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After Yeats and Joyce: Reading Modern Irish Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Translations 1
  • 2 - A Slight Inflection: Representations of the Big House 32
  • 3 - Lyrical Fields and Featherbeds: Representations of the Rural and the Provincial 57
  • 4 - Vews of Dublin 100
  • 5 - Ulsters of the Mind: The Writing of Northern Ireland 131
  • Notes 175
  • Further Reading 183
  • Index 187
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