In 1937, W. B. Yeats wrote ‘A General Introduction for My Work’ to directly confront the dualities central to his poetry and his identity, and to reflect on his predicament as a consciously ‘Irish’ poet who uses the English language as his medium. One of the influences on Yeats's sense of being an Irish poet who writes in English is John O'Leary, who gave Yeats the poems of Thomas Davis, a Young Ireland poet whom Yeats subtly deployed in his explorations of what it meant to be an Irish poet writing in English. Writing in English, Austin Clarke brings to bear on his use of language the full weight of his apprehension of Irish history and culture. Clarke had a complicated response to the poetry of the Irish Literary Revival, especially that written by Yeats. Yeats and Clark both acknowledge that lamenting and unlamenting song derives from the awareness that Gaelic is their national language, but not their mother tongue.
The poetry of T. S. Eliot tells us something about W. B. Yeats's relationship to critical and aesthetic tendencies that were operative in Ireland, Britain, America, and continental Europe from the 1890s onwards. The two Irish poets both felt the need to respond to the innovations of French symbolism, especially as interpreted by Arthur Symons in The Symbolist Movement in Literature. A problem shared by Yeats and Eliot was that of relating what is, in its essentials, a modern picture of the mind to tradition. This chapter compares the views of Yeats and Eliot with respect to tradition, first looking at romanticism, focusing on what idea of romantic poetry is being promoted and how it is linked to nation. It then examines the implications of ‘country spiritism’. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the idea of culture in Yeats and Eliot based on the former's comments on Henry Grattan and John O'Leary.
This article focuses on the primer or the Book of Hours, the most popular reading material for women in England during the medieval period. The primer was at once a first book of prayer and the layperson's primary devotional manual. An abbreviated form of the divine office designed specifically for lay use, the primer emerged in the mid-thirteenth century as a costly aide to the devotions of the elite. It contained the basic prayers that all children were supposed to learn written in easy-to-read letters and often accompanied by an alphabet, as well as a full programme of daily devotions, organized around the hours of the Virgin. The earliest surviving English book of hours, the de Brailes Hours.
This article examines the literature of popular discontent in medieval England. Among the most evocative and intriguing of the surviving texts connected with the life of everyday people of the Middle Ages are the various Middle English poems and verses commenting on contemporary events, scattered through a variety of manuscript collections, administrative records, and other texts. Example of these poetry can be found in the The Yorkshire Partisans section of the book Historical Poems of the XIVth and XVth Centuries published in 1959 by the American-based scholar and critic Rossell Hope Robbins. This article discusses Robbins' analysis of the literary qualities of historical poems.
Traditionally, the U.S. South and its literature have been defined in terms of a supposedly fixed, rooted, and distinctive “sense of place.” This chapter considers how such traditional definitions have been radically recast in recent decades by the trends of globalization and immigration, and how writers—many of them from immigrant backgrounds, or from outside the South themselves—have remapped the region. The chapter focuses on three immigrant trajectories to the U.S. South—from Asia, Africa, and Latin America—as represented in the fiction of (among others) Susan Choi, Ha Jin, Robert Olen Butler, Lan Cao, Dave Eggers, and Cynthia Shearer.
Although Jewish writers such as Leonard Cohen and Mordecai Richler have attained widespread personal influence and popularity in Canadian literary discussions, the relationship of Canadian Jewish literature to the mainstream remains an understudied question. In order to understand its roots, and its relationship to the canon, the role of early Yiddish writers, the influence of Eastern Europe, and the impact of regionalism must be considered. In recent writing, largely by women with Montreal roots such as Anne Michaels, a return to imaginary constructions of Eastern Europe reflects new developments. The role of key early influences, such as A.M. Klein, requires reconsideration, while revisiting the work of neglected figures like Henry Kreisel and Eli Mandel redirects our thematic and stylistic focus, while also shifting attention to writers from western Canada.
Elizabeth Meadows and Jay Clayton
Although the Victorian period gave birth to a strong tradition of critique of technology and industrialization, it also fostered a counter-tradition: a new and generative technological imaginary. In recent years, scholars of Victorian culture have begun to map out this technological imaginary in readings of canonical Victorian novels by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Gaskell. This chapter surveys this recent critical work, then turns to Anthony Trollope’s The Small House at Allington (1864) as an example of how technologies of communication and transportation become vehicles for rich intersubjective exchanges, generating narrative structures that link characters and novels to one another in complex webs mimicking Victorian Britain’s network of rails, wires, and postal routes.
Yves Bonnefoy is a key figure in the French literary reception of Shakespeare. This essay explores his interpretations and translations of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, informed by his own poetic vision, anchored in a literary tradition whose high points include Baudelaire and Rimbaud. Bonnefoy argues that Shakespeare finds his poetic voice after experimenting with the sonnet—a genre Bonnefoy considers staid and prone to cliché when Shakespeare took it up. For Bonnefoy Shakespeare begins to come alive as a great poet in As you Like It and Romeo and Juliet; and his supreme achievement is The Winter’s Tale, a play which encompasses the scope of the entire oeuvre and resolves some underlying concerns of the major tragedies while offering a refined appraisal of the relationship between art, nature, and existence apposite to Bonnefoy’s own views about poetry.