H. Ehrlich, Fall 2005, TuTh 2:30 - 3:50 pm, Conklin 302, Index #34313, Office: Hill 521, Hours: TuTh 1:30-2:30pm
James Joyce: First Day
Irish 1: the traditional language of Ireland, also known as Gaelic, revived in 20th century, now an official language of Ireland but rarely spoken
Irish 2: literature written in Ireland, since 1800 mostly in English
Modern Irish 1: since 1600
Modern Irish 2: 1890-1940, i.e. "modernist"
Anglo-Irish 1: the despised Protestant ascendancy
Anglo-Irish 2: literature written in English
So "modern Irish" means modernist for period, Anglo for language (not necessarily Protestant, although Yeats was, but Joyce the renegade Catholic was not ), and Irish for nationality. Although English departments finally admitted "modern" as a period after the late 1940s when the period itself had ceased to exist, they still believe that any non-British literature in English must be American (Rutgers formally offers only two subjects, 350 for British, and 352 for American). Is Irish literature therefore merely Anglophone like the literature of Trinidad or Nigeria? The suggestion is not absurd: after the 17th century, Ireland became the first third world country, destined to colonial status under the British, and until the recent prosperity under the EU was the only long-standing third world country in Europe.
After the failed Irish uprisings of the 1790s, modeled after the American and French revolutions, the British imposed English as the official language of Ireland, and by 1900 had made Gaelic Irish virtually extinct, except in an area then so remote as to require a deliberate and difficult excursion, namely the Aran Islands well off the coast of Galway.
In the course of the 19th century, the Irish were assigned a national identity and temperament as a locally avaiable "other" by French and British historians. According to Ernst Renan and later Matthew Arnold, the Irish were melancholy, imaginative, magical -- the passive end of the scale that was diametrically opposite to the optimistic, conforming, and mechanical Teutonic nations. The Irish were both noble savages and "white niggers" (I quote). They were ancient and noble, as their Scots-Gaelic cousins had been depicted in literature, especially Thomas McPherson's 18th century popular and scholarly fabrication, Ossian. Today the Celts are regarded as the first Europeans (the title of a recent museum exhibit), the first discernible culture to leave a distinct artistic heritage to emerge in archeological studies from the mists of pre-history. But in the 19th century some Irish historians refused not only to regard themselves as British colonials but as in any way European in origin. The Irish claimed direct decent from ancient Hebrews and Phonecians in the Milesians who had migrated via Spain. Ancient Iran and Celtic Eran were the same; Irish was considered an Oriental language.
The manuscript tradition in Ireland began in the 6th century; Irish monks brought the Latin alphabet to their British neighbors. In the 1870s Standish O'Grady published a history of Ireland which regarded the entire old Irish manuscript tradition, mainly capturing the outpourings of the old Irish bards, as literally true evidence of old Irish history. Victorian editors were nonplused by the complexity, incoherence, and violence of the Irish bardic tradition -- not to mention the insatiable sexual appetites of female divinities. Its irregularity, we now know, is characteristic of the scribal practice of locally collecting, copying, recollecting, and recopying manuscripts without knowledge of activities and traditions going on elsewhere. Its sex and violence were tamed to some extent by British Victorian scholars who resorted to the device of reading it as source material for medieval romances in the form of Arthurian legends for Thomas Mallory and Sir Walter Scott, and Tristam and Isolde for Richard Wagner.
Irish nationalists: Thomas Davis, James Clarence Mangan
See "To Ireland in the Coming Times"
Know, that I would accounted be
True brother of that company.
Who sang to sweeten Ireland's wrong,
Ballad and story, rann and song....
[rann=a verse in Irish]
Nor may I less be counted one
With Davis, Mangan, Ferguson ...
[Thomas Davis, collected nationalist Irish verse, ed The Nation]
Joyce, replying in "The Holy Office," rejected allegiance to Yeats's standards, ridiculing his stage productions and ornately illustrated editions:
But I must not accounted be
One of that mumming company--
With him who hies him to appease
His giddy dames' frivolities
While they console him when he whinges
With gold-embroidered Celtic fringes--
Mangan: a character in "Araby" with whose sister the narrator becomes infatuated
Ferguson: at the end of the Circe chapter, Bloom makes the fatherly mistake in wishing well for the celibate Stephen, who he sees as a son figure, by misunderstanding Stephen's mutterings about Fergus, a hero of Irish myth, as though they were a reference to a Miss Ferguson, who he hopes Stephen is now dating.
Yeats's study and editing of Irish folklore and myth
Celtic revival: a mixture of Irish folklore and myth with occult, esoteric, and mystical subjects
Dublin Hermetic Society
Madam Blavatsky: Theosophical Society
Order of the Golden Dawn: theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and kabbalah
Poems and Shorter Writings, ed Ellmann, et al 1991
Poems and Exiles. Ed J. C. C. Mays, 1992
Occasional, Critical, and Political writing. Ed Kevin Barry. Oxford 2000
Films and Recordings:
Ulysses, dir. Joseph Strick, 1967
A Portrait of the Artist, dir. Joseph Strick, 1967
The Dead, dir. John Huston, 1988.
Nora, written by Brenda Maddox, 2002.
Bl'om, Sean Kelly?, 2003
Joyce, reading excerpts from Aeolus (1927?) and Anna Livia Plurabelle (1937?)
Ulysses. complete reading by RTE (Irish radio), 1982