The politics of enchantment

American literature and Irish culture, 1910–1955: the politics of enchantment discusses how and why American modernist writers turned to Ireland at various stages during their careers. By placing events such as the Celtic Revival and the Easter Rising at the centre of the discussion, it shows how Irishness became a cultural determinant in the work of American modernists. Each chapter deals with a different source of influence, considering the impact of family, the Celtic Revival, rural mythmaking, nationalist politics and the work of W. B. Yeats on American modernists’ writings. It is the first study to extend the analysis of Irish influence on American literature beyond racial, ethnic or national frameworks.

Through close readings, a sustained focus on individual writers, and in-depth archival research, American literature and Irish culture, 1910–1955 provides a balanced and structured approach to the study of the complexities of American modernist writers’ responses to Ireland. Offering new readings of familiar literary figures – including Fitzgerald, Moore, O’Neill, Steinbeck and Stevens – it makes for essential reading for students and academics working on twentieth-century American and Irish literature and culture, and transatlantic studies.

Chapter 1 Cultural and racial (dis)affiliations And partly because Ireland is small enough To be still thought of with a family feeling1 A study of American modernism and Irish culture must necessarily begin with a consideration of family. The affiliations and disaffiliations to Ireland experienced by the American writers discussed in this chapter reveal a reading of ‘family’ as literal and metaphorical, building on the kind of familial intimacy implied by the ‘family feeling’ that MacNeice places, in the above lines, at the centre of the ‘small’ domestic sphere

in American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55

7 John McGahern’s ‘Oldfashioned’ and Anglo-Irish culture David Clare In John McGahern’s 1985 short story ‘Oldfashioned’ he ably demonstrates why a sensitive, bookish, Catholic young man raised in the repressive, anti-intellectual Irish Free State might be attracted to the way of life being led by the country’s dwindling Church of Ireland population. Throughout ‘Oldfashioned’, McGahern suggests that Catholics in the young state are, in the main, overly fixated on money-making, gossip and a prosaic practicality, and that they are suspicious of anything that smacks

in John McGahern
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'Why do we like being Irish?'

turbulence of the outside world. MacNeice’s summative comment on Ireland’s ‘self-deception’ points beyond those Irish who are complicit in the packaging of Irish culture as an historical, even mythological, artefact, to those outside Ireland who choose to collude in the myth of Ireland’s separation from the rest of the world. In An Age of Innocence (1998), Brian Fallon questions the one-sidedness of such negative views of Ireland during this period; however, he still 001-016 AmericanLiterature Introduction.indd 1 18/06/2013 17:10 2 American literature and Irish culture

in American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55
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Cultural credibility in America's Ireland - and Ireland's America

Yeats to carve out a place for Irish culture on the international stage, in the century since the Revival ‘a hybrid form of Hiberno-American blandness’ has formed, as Longley puts it.1 But were the beginnings of this ‘blandness’ already in evidence around the first half of the twentieth century? Can we see them, for example, in the unrelenting way in which Wallace Stevens viewed the Irish landscape as ‘greener than it is’, and thought of its people as pushing donkey carts through the rain?2 This study has looked at various instances of interaction between America and

in American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55

quite in the way that O’Toole envisages it: as what was sought, and found, by these writers was a landscape that confirmed their own preconceptions of Irish culture. In the above lines from ‘Spenser’s Ireland’, Moore is clearly aware of this somewhat flawed ‘quest’; yet the end-rhyme between ‘green’ and ‘seen’ reveals her delight in the ‘greenness’ of Ireland despite her own suspicions that this might not be quite the whole truth. Like Moore, certain American modernist writers during this period – including Stevens and Steinbeck – became involved in an act of

in American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55

Americans interested in exploring the various facets of their own identity, including several people, black and white, who went on to participate in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. They noted the many similarities between Irish culture and history and those of the African Americans, and they advocated following the Irish model for literary renaissance and social change. Mishkin goes on to argue that W. E. B. DuBois was inspired to found the Krigwa Players (later named the Negro Experimental Theatre) as part of the ‘Little Theatre’ movement that was itself inspired

in American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55

Isle of Innisfree’ by assessing Lorna Goodison’s 1999 work ‘Country, Sligoville’, a reworking of Yeats’s poem in a Jamaican location. Here, Goodison’s poem becomes an exercise in ‘circum-Atlantic performance’, where the poet is: ‘reconsidering tradition in spatial terms – the contract of three places in Innisfree, Sligo, and Sligoville – as conveyed through names that not only evoke the legacy of slavery and freedom that marks the landscape of Jamaica, but also express the repressed history of a transatlantic Irish culture with its ambiguous legacy of ownership

in American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55

remonstration against the rebels’ decision to proceed in a way that diverged from Yeats’s dream of a cultural (and peaceful) Irish revival. But what Yeats’s poem also marks is a movement within his own work from a declared position of non-involvement with politics to one through which he writes himself into the rhetoric of events. Only the year before the Easter Rising, Yeats had famously abstained from commenting on 135-163 AmericanLiterature Ch4.indd 135 18/06/2013 17:11 136 American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55 the events of World War One with his poem ‘On

in American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55
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Sexuality, Catholicism and literature in twentieth-century Ireland

This book studies the twentieth-century Irish Catholic Bildungsroman. This comparative examination of six Irish novelists tracks the historical evolution of a literary genre and its significant role in Irish culture. With chapters on James Joyce and Kate O'Brien, along with studies of Maura Laverty, Patrick Kavanagh, Edna O'Brien and John McGahern, this book offers a fresh new approach to the study of twentieth-century Irish writing and of the twentieth-century novel. Combining the study of literature and of archival material, the book also develops a new interpretive framework for studying the history of sexuality in twentieth-century Ireland. The book addresses itself to a wide set of interdisciplinary questions about Irish sexuality, modernity and post-colonial development, as well as Irish literature.