Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Irish Literary Renaissance: George Moore, Augusta Gregory, W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge

Irish Drama

– the first major theatrical movement of the 20th century originated in Dublin

– the Irish Literary Theatre (1899 – 1902): founded by W. B. Yeats, A. Gregory, G. Moore and Edward Martyn

– the Irish National Theatre (1902 – 1904): the renamed theatre, maintained a permanent all-Irish company

– the Abbey Theatre (since 1904): the theatre was renamed again after it had moved to a building of that name

– William Butler Yeats: uses the themes from old Irish legends in his plays

– John Millington Synge: uses the speech and imagination of Irish country people

– Sean O’Casey: uses the Irish Civil War as a background for plays mixing tragic melodrama, humour and irony


George Moore (1852 – 1933)

– born in a wealthy family of both Irish/English and Catholic/Protestant background

– brought up by listening to the Irish stories of the servants and voracious reading of Walter Scott

– his family was on the side of the peasants in uprisings, also was known for their kind treatment of tenants

– his father was elected a Member of Parliament and moved with the family to London

– in 1870s started painting, studied art in Paris with the intention to become an artist

– for some time moved back and forth between Paris and London, studied writing, read Poe and Baudelaire

– made acquaintance with writers and painters, including Zola and Turgenev, Renoire and Monet

– in 1880s returned to Ireland to take care for the estate inherited from his father and deteriorated in his absence

– started publishing poems and novels, some of them with a political background

– in 1900s embarked on his best phase during which he published his most enduring short stories

> Confessions of a Young Man (1886): a lively memoir of his twenties spent in the bohemian Paris and London

> Pamell and His Island (1887): a collection of satirical essays on Irish politics

> Modern Painting (1893): the first English scholarly volume on contemporary art, introduced impressionism

> The Untilled Field (1903): a collection of stories, a major event in the history of the English short story

[READING: ‘Home Sickness’]


Lady Augusta Gregory (1852 – 1932)

– born in county Galway in western Ireland, which is the centre of population and the most Irish part of the country

– came from an Anglo-Irish Protestant landowner aristocratic family and inherited the family fortune

– devoted to peasants, realized that poverty was exploited (fought exaggerated prizes in shops by opening her own)

– brought up by her nurse, a native Irish speaker, who made her familiar with histories and legends of the local area

– explored the rich literary tradition in Old Irish, translated folk histories, myths and songs from Irish into English

– wrote in ‘Kiltartanese’, an attempted transliteration of the Hiberno-English dialect spoken around Coole Park

– involved with the Gaelic League, a movement aiming at making Irish an official language to be taught at schools

– married an older military officer who introduced her to travelling, culture and society and expanded her views

– held anti-imperialist views, wrote political essays on unfair exploitation, also criticized the British rule in India

– became a leading cultural nationalist, the main organizer and driving force of the Irish Literary Revival

– made her house at Coole Park a meeting place for the leading Revival figures, including William Butler Yeats

– together with Yeats founded the national theatre, became a playwright, also collaborated on Yeats’s early plays

– contributed to the renaissance of Irish drama, was a prolific playwright, director and an occasional stage manager

> The Kiltartan History Book (1909), The Kiltartan Wonder Book (1910): tales from around Coole Park

> Spreading the News (1904), The Rising of the Moon (1906), The Gaol Gate (1906): one-act peasant plays

> The White Cockade (1905), The Canavans (1906), The Deliverer (1911): folk history plays

> Our Irish Theatre: A Chapter of Autobiography (1913): a history of the Abbey Theatre

> Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland (1920): a two-volume study of the folklore of her native area

> Ulster Cycle, Fenian Cycle, Fianna: three basic cycles of heroic myths translated from Irish

[READING: ‘The Daughter of King Under-Wave’]

– ‘leprechaun’ = a creature in Irish mythology, an omniscient but mischievous dwarf, usually a red-haired old man

– ‘fianna’ = semi-independent warrior bands in early Ireland, lived in forests as mercenaries, bandits and hunters

William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

– influenced by William Blake, the first to discover and understand his esoteric work The Book of the Four Zoas

– involved with magic, mysticism and occultism, became a member of The Eternal Order of the Golden Dawn

– founded the private Cuala Press, with his sisters as artistic editors, published limited editions for the initiated only

– involved with the Irish actress and revolutionary Maud Gonne, later with her beautiful daughter Iseult Gonne

– inspired by Lady Augusta Gregory to whose house he was invited (> collection The Wild Swans at Coole, 1919)

– occupied and refurbished a Norman tower on Lady Gregory’s land (> The Tower, 1928; The Winding Stair, 1933)

Early Poems

– based mostly on folk stories or sceneries recalled from his childhood

> ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’:

– Innisfree, meaning Heather Island, is a small lake island situated in county Sligo in the west of Ireland

– the author was given the idea by an advertisement, wrote the poem in London when he recalled his childhood

– the poem puts much emphasis on a special rhythm, unusual for English poetry, it was also made into a song

– the speaker describes a peaceful withdrawal into a pastoral idyll which he imagines while staying in a city

> ‘The Fiddler of Dooney’:

– Dooney is a place not far from Innisfree where the author picnicked in his childhood

– the poem praises merry fiddlers who are as good as priests and are the first to be admitted and welcome to heaven

> ‘The Song of the Old Mother’:

– a complaint of an old woman who must toil in the house while the young rest and dream their foolish dreams

Later Poems

– poems from Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921), preoccupied with male-female relationships

> ‘Michael Robartes and the Dancer’:

– a he-and-she dialogue (Yeats and Iseult Gonne)

– the woman wishes for education but the man discourages her, claiming that beauty is enough value in a woman

> ‘Solomon and the Witch’:

– a dialogue between Solomon, the wisest of men, and the witch, the most powerful of women (Yeats and his wife)

– the ‘strange tongue’ discussed in the poem refers to the automatic writing of Yeats’s wife

> ‘An Image from a Past Life’:

– a he-and-she dialogue (Yeats and Maud Gonne)

– the woman in the arms of her lover is frightened by a recollection of a man from her past

> ‘Under Saturn’:

– written against the background of Yeats’s marriage and the Irish Uprising which occurred at about the same time

– a man addresses a woman and expresses deep feelings for both his present, that is the love for the bride, and his past, that is the love for the native village

> ‘Easter, 1916’:

– the title refers to the Easter Uprising as a result of which ‘a terrible beauty is born’

– the poem recalls once familiar men, the intellectual leaders of the Uprising, now all of them changed, but still all connected by the Irish cause

> ‘Sixteen Dead Men’:

– pays a tribute to the sixteen men who were shot for their belief in the Irish cause

> ‘The Rose Tree’:

– influenced by Blake’s poem ‘The Sick Rose’ as well as by the concept of the rosy crucifixion

– uses a sickly rose tree as a metaphor for the suppressed nation, hopes in recovery for the both

> ‘On a Political Prisoner’:

– describes a female prisoner, once a beautiful young woman who grows old and withers away in the captivity

> ‘The Leaders of the Crowd’:

– realizes that truth comes to light only with education and that uneducated crowds do not know it

> ‘Towards Break of Day’:

– a married couple shares the same bed but not the same dreams

> ‘The Second Coming’:

– an apocalyptic vision, influenced by the Irish Uprising and the WWI which were overlapping

> ‘A Prayer for My Daughter’:

– expresses the hopes for a good and well-balanced life for his baby daughter

> ‘A Meditation in Time of War’:

– the ‘old grey stone’ mentioned in the poem is taken from Wordsworth’s poem ‘Expostulation and Reply’

– suggests the revelation of the speaker that God is alive while men are not

> ‘Coole Park, 1929’:

– recalls with both pleasure and melancholy the artistic circle gathered around Lady Gregory in her house at Coole

[READING: selected poems – see above]

John Millington Synge (1871 – 1909)

– born in a family of Protestant missionaries, but experienced a religious crisis in his teens and became a naturalist

– grew up without his father, with women only, which accounts for the strong female characters in his plays

– possessed a musical talent, played the violin, even won a musical scholarship

– won a scholarship to study Old Irish in Paris, where he met Maud Gonne and William Butler Yeats

– spent several summers at the Aran Islands, the Irish-speaking area off the western Ireland, where he studied Irish

– was fascinated by the story-telling form, but became a playwright because of the demand for plays at the Abbey

– minimizes conventional action and achieves the singular effect of his plays through the language

– echoes the rhythms of the Western Ireland English moulded by Gaelic syntax and provincial Catholicism

– influenced by the 17th century London comedies, but perfected a distinctively Irish comic form

> The Aran Islands (1907): an early modernist text intermingling diary entries, short stories and memorandums

> Riders to the Sea (1904): a one-act poetic tragedy, suggests the perennial failure of those working with and on the sea, subsumes characters and action in a choric flow expressive of a submissive fatalism

> The Tinker’s Wedding (1903–7) [‘tinker’ = a wandering white gypsy]

> The Well of the Saints (1905)

> The Playboy of the Western World (1907)

[READING: Riders to the Sea and The Playboy of the Western World]

Základní údaje

  • Předmět

    Irish Literature 1.
  • Semestr

    Zimní semestr 2009/10.
  • Vyučující

    Matthew Sweney.
  • Status

    Volitelný seminář pro III. blok.


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