High Nonsensical Words: A Study of the Works of Standish James O'Grady

High Nonsensical Words: A Study of the Works of Standish James O'Grady

High Nonsensical Words: A Study of the Works of Standish James O'Grady

High Nonsensical Words: A Study of the Works of Standish James O'Grady

Excerpt

For Thomas Carlyle, "the one thing needed" from England's future heroes was a history of England. In Shooting Niagara: and After? he described the kind of history he had in mind: "To write the History of England as a kind of Bible (or in parts and snatches, to sing it if you could), this were work for the highest Aristos or series of Aristoi in Sacred Literature (really a sacred kind, this); and to be candid, I discover hitherto no incipiencies of this; and greatly desire there were some!" While Carlyle was displeased with the "dryasdust" history of his contemporaries, he was hardly more upset with them than an Irishman who heeded his call. But it was the history of Ireland, not England, that Standish James O'Grady turned "into a kind of Iliad, almost perhaps into a kind of Bible."

O'Grady History of Ireland was published in two volumes in 1878 and 1880, and those volumes became the Bible of the Irish writers of the next several decades. In fact, O'Grady's stature was so great in the following decades that he was called the Father of the Irish Literary Revival. Of him, W. B. Yeats wrote: I think it was his 'History of Ireland, Heroic Period,' that started us all . . . Yeats's "us all" refers to the writers of the Irish Revival, and almost every one of them echoed Yeats's statement. Lady Gregory, for example, said in her autobiography that Standish O'Grady's Homeric paraphrases had long been an inspiration and a delight. But O'Grady History was not history in the usual sense of the word. He had rescued ancient Irish tales, which he regarded as semi-historical, from "dryasdust" scholarship. It was from O'Grady that the Irish writers learned of heroes such as Cuculain and Finn MacCool, for they were virtually unknown otherwise. AE, T. W. Rolleston, John Todhunter, Katherine Tynan, Aubrey de Vere, and Austin Clarke among others acknowledged their debt to O'Grady.

These writers were stirred by the high, noble tone which . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.