A. Study Topics
I. Irish Storytelling
- The cycles of myths and sagas.
- The manuscripts.
- The Mythological Cycle: the Tuatha de Danaan – the four treasures; the druids; the story of Nuada of the Silver Arm; the fight against the Fomorians and Milesians; The Wooing of Étain.
- The Ulster Cycle: manuscripts; Macha; Emain Macha; the dinnshenchas stories; Cú Chulainn: birth, name, appearance, battle frenzy, heroism; The Táin: story and characteristics.
- The Fenian Cycle: Fionn Mac Cool; Oisín; The Fianna – code of behaviour; the voyage tales: the imramm and echtra stories; Oisín in the Land of Youth; The Pursuit of Diarmaid and Gráinne.
- The Historical Cycle: the buile motif; The Madness of Sweeney.
II. Anglo-Irish Prose in Modern Ireland
- trends and themes; the regional novel and the big house theme, the Irish Gothic.
- the condition of England novel and the documentary narrative: the theme of the Great Famine in W. Carleton’s The Black Prophet.
- materialisation of the big house theme in Somerville andRoss’s The Real Charlotte: the theme of grandeur and decay, the drama of characters.
- Maria Edgeworth: Castle Rackrent: decadence of the Protestant Ascendancy, the moral tale, the narrative.
- Sheridan Le Fanu: features of his gothic, In a Glass Darkly: verisimilitude and mode of narration, ‘Carmilla’ and the vampire theme and tale.
- Bram Stoker: Dracula: historical connections, Transylvania and Vlad Tepes, plot, the vampire story, verisimilitude and mode of narration, ‘Carmilla’ and Dracula compared, Dracula in films.
III. The Irish Literary Revival
- premises: the Gaelic Revival, rediscovery of the past, old Gaelic language, myths and ancient heroes, stories and folklore.
- the Literary Revival as movement: societies; the literary scene; the theatre and the establishment of an Irish National Theatre; emblems; defining representatives – Dr Douglas Hyde, W. B. Yeats, Lady Augusta Gregory; opponents.
- Douglas Hyde: ‘The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland’.
- Lady Augusta Gregory: promoter and protector of Irish culture, Lady Gregory’s rewriting of heroic myths, revival of language – ‘kiltartan’.
- John Millington Synge: The Playboy of the Western World: the setting and the non-heroic representation of Irish rural life, plot, Synge’s language, Christy Mahon, the scandal.
IV. William Butler Yeats
- aesthetic principles and perspective: polarity of perspective.
- the doctrine, A vision: the gyres, the phases of the moon, Unity of Being, Unity of Culture
- the early phase: ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’.
- the political poems: Yeats’s commitment and the Irish political scene at the beginning of the twentieth century, ‘September 1913’, ‘Easter 1916’.
- the Coole Park Poems: the importance of Coole Park in Yeats’s life and creation, ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’, ‘Coole Park, 1929’.
- the Byzantium poems: the place of Byzantium in Yeats’s doctrine, ‘Sailing to Byzantium’, ‘Byzantium’.
- the philosophical poems: the turn of the gyres, dispensations and cycles of history: ‘Leda and the Swan’, ‘The Second Coming’.
V. James Joyce
- Joyce’s kind of Ireland.
- Joyce’s protean narrative technique.
- Dubliners: the theme of paralysis, the representation of Ireland and Dublin, ‘The Dead’ – Irish society and life, the theme of love, significances of the snowfall image at the end of the story.
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: the condition of the artist in Ireland, the portrait of Stephen Dedalus as artist and citizen, narrative characteristics.
- Ulysses: mythical realism; the Homeric poem and its counterparts – contemporary Dublin; structure; character portrayal: Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, Molly Bloom; the motif of quest; the interior monologue; characteristics of the Joycean text: ‘Lestrygonians’.
- You’ll find no harder warrior against you – no point more sharp, more swift, more slashing; no raven more flesh-ravenous, no hand more deft, no fighter more fierce, no one of his own age one third as good, no lion more ferocious; no barrier in battle, no hard hammer, no gate of battle, no soldiers’ doom, no hinderer of hosts, more fine. You will find no one there to measure against him – for youth or vigour; for apparel, horror or eloquence; for splendour fame or form; for voice or strength or sternness; for cleverness, courage or blows in battle; for fire or fury, victory, doom or turmoil; for stalking, scheming or slaughter in the hunt; for swiftness, alertness or wildness; and no one with the battle-feat ‘nine men on each point’ – none like Cuchuainn. (The Táin 75-6)
- Bare to the world, here came Sweeney / to harass and to harrow me / therefore, it is God’s decree / bare to the world he’ll always be. / […] Sweeney lives under my curse. (Sweeney Astray, trans. S. Heaney 4-6)
- The editor hopes his readers will observe that these are ‘tales of other times;’ that the manners depicted in the following pages are not those of the present age; the race of the Rackrents has long since been extinct in Ireland; and the drunken Sir Patrick, the litigious Sir Murtagh, the fighting Sir Kit, and the slovenly Sir Condy, are characters which could no more be met with at present in Ireland, than Squire Western or Parson Trulliber in England. There is a time when individuals can bear to be rallied for their past follies and absurdities, after they have acquired new habits and a new consciousness. Nations, as well as individuals, gradually lose attachment to their identity, and the present generation is amused, rather than offended, by the ridicule that is thrown upon its ancestors. (Maria Edgeworth, Preface, Castle Rckrent)
- Those who were acquainted with the manners of a certain class of the gentry of Ireland some years ago, will want no evidence of the truth of honest Thady’s narrative; to those who are totally unacquainted with Ireland, the following Memoirs will perhaps be scarcely intelligible, or probably they may appear perfectly incredible. (Maria Edgeworth, Preface, Castle Rackrent, 4)
- Look about you, and say what is it you see that does not foretell famine – famine – famine! Doesn’t the dark wet day, an’ the rain, rain, rain, foretell it? Doesn’t the rotten’ crops, the unhealthy air, an’ the green damp foretell it? Doesn’t the sky without a sun, the heavy clouds, an’ the angry fire of the West, foretell it? Isn’t the airth a page of prophecy, an’ the sky a page of prophecy, where every man may read of famine, pestilence, an’ death? The airth is softened for the grave, an’ in the black clouds of heaven you may see the death-hearses movin’ slowly along – funeral after funeral – funeral after funeral – an’ nothing to folly them but lamentation an’ woe, by the widow an’ orphan – the fatherless, the motherless, an’ the childless – woe an’ lamentation – lamentation an’ woe.’ (William Carleton, The Black Prophet)
- [Dr Heselius’s] treatment of some of the cases is curious. He writes in two distinct characters. He descries what he saw and heard as an intelligent layman might, and when in this style of narrative he had seen the patient either through his own hall-door, to the light of the day, or through the gates of darkness to the caverns of the dead, he returns upon the narrative, and in the terms of his art, and with the force and originality of genius proceeds to the work of analysis, diagnosis and illustration. (Sheridan LeFanu, In a Glass Darkly)
- The room was lighted by the candle that burnt there all through the night, and I saw a female figure standing at the foot of the bed, a little at the right side. It was in a dark loose dress, and its hair was down and covered its shoulders. A block of stone could not have been more still. There was not the slightest stir of respiration. As I stared at it, the figure appeared to have changed its place, and was now nearer the door; then, close to it, the door opened, and it passed out.
I was now relieved, and able to breathe and move. My first thought was that Carmilla had been playing me a trick, and that I had forgotten to secure my door. I hastened to it, and found it locked as usual on the inside. I was afraid to open it – I was horrified. I sprang into my bed and covered my head up in the bed-clothes, and lay there more dead than alive till morning. (Sheridan LeFanu, ‘Carmilla’)
- All day long we seemed to dawdle through a country which was full of beauty of every kind. Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills such as we see in old missals; sometimes we ran by rivers and streams which seemed from the wide stony margin on each side of them to be subject of great floods. It takes a lot of water, and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a river clear. At every station there were groups of people, sometimes crowds, and in all sorts of attire. Some of them were just like the peasants at home or those I saw coming through France and Germany, with short jackets, and round hats, and home-made trousers; but others were very picturesque.
The women looked pretty, except when you got near them, but they were very clumsy about the waist. They had all full white sleeves of some kind or other, and most of them had big belts with a lot of strips of something fluttering from them like the dresses in a ballet, but of course there were petticoats under them. (Bram Stoker, Dracula)
- In conclusion, I would earnestly appeal to every one, whether Unionist or Nationalist, who wishes to see the Irish nation produce its best – surely whatever our politics are we all wish that – to set his face against this constant running to England for our books, literature, music, games, fashions, and ideas. I appeal to every one whatever his politics – for this is no political matter – to do his best to help the Irish race to develop in future upon Irish lines, even at the risk of encouraging national aspirations, because upon Irish lines alone can the Irish race once more become what it was of yore – one of the most original, artistic, literary, and charming peoples of Europe. (Douglas Hyde, ‘The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland’)
- PEGEEN […] [Putting her shawl over her head and breaking out into wild lamentations] Oh my grief, I’ve lost him surely. I’ve lost the only Playboy of the Western World. (John Millington Synge, The Playboy of the Western World)
- That is no country for old men. The young / In one another’s arms, birds in the trees / – Those dying generations – at their song, / The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, / Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long / Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. / Caught in that sensual music all neglect / Monuments of unageing intellect. (W.B. Yeats, ‘Sailing to Byzantium’)
- The darkness drops again; but now I know / That twenty centuries of stony sleep / Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, / And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? (W.B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’)
- [… Snow] was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. (James Joyce, Dubliners, ‘The Dead’)
- Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of my experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. (James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)
- Yes because he never did a thing like that before as ask to get his breakfast in bed with a couple of eggs since the City Arms hotel when he used to be pretending to be laid up with a sick voice doing his highness to make himself interesting for that old faggot Mrs Riordan that he thought he had a great leg of and she never left us a farthing all for masses for herself and her soul greatest miser ever was actually afraid to lay out 4d for her methylated spirit telling me all her ailments she had too much old chat in her about politics and earthquakes and the end of the world let us have a bit of fun first God help the world if all the women were her sort down on bathingsuits and lownecks of course nobody wanted her to wear them I suppose she was pious because no man would look at her twice I hope Ill never be like her a wonder […] (James Joyce, Ulysses)