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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that any convincing account of late Victorian Celticism must register its diversity. From one perspective Celticism is a product of English epistemological mastery and political domination, an internal form of Orientalism in which the feminine, superstitious, and poetic Celt could be easily accommodated as a junior partner in the British Imperial adventure. From another, Celticism offers a radical reconceptualization of national identities within the British Isles, fostering new avenues of dialogue and artistic and political collaboration. Adopting a ‘four-nations’ approach to cultural history and drawing on a range of writers from Matthew Arnold to W. B. Yeats, Fiona McLeod to Edward Thomas, this chapter explores these tensions. It concludes by considering the implications of thinking about identity in linguistic as opposed to racial terms.

Keywords: Celticism, identity, internal colonialism, Celtic languages, nationalism, assimilation, race, language

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