Michael Kenneally, ed., Irish Literature and Culture [CAIS Conference, Marianopolis 1988 / Irish Literary Studies No. 35] (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992), 196pp.

CONTENTS: Preface [ix]; Hiroshi Suzuki, Opening Address [1]; Andrew Carpenter, Changing Views of Irish Musical and Literary Culture in Eighteenth-centry Anglo-Irish Literature [5]; Terry Eagleton, Aesthetics and Politics in Edmund Burke [25]; Mary Helen Thuente, The Literary Significance of the United Irishmen [35]; Patrick Rafroidi, Thomas Moore: Towards a Reassessment? [55]; Zack Bowen, Music and Ritual in Ulysses [63]; Richard Allen Cave, Stage Design as a Form of Dramatic Art [72]; Edna Longley, No More Poems About Paintings? [90]; Criticism, Theatre and Politics: Brian Friel’s The Freedom of the City and its Early Reception [112]; Declan Kiberd, Fathers and Sons: Irish-Style [127]; Richard Kearney, Modern Irish Cinema: Re-viewing Traditions [144; John Wilson Foster, Culture and Colonisation: A Northern Perspective [158]; Notes, 173; Contributors, 186; Index, 189.

Hiroshi Suzuki, Opening Address
We dreamed that a great painter had been born/To that cold Clare and Galway rock and thorn,/To that stern colour and that delicate line/That are our secret discipline/Wherein the gazing heart doubles her might.’ (Yeats, In Memory of Major Robert Gregory [IX]’

Suzuki draws attention to Yeats’ plan for Castle of Heroes, to include four jewels of the Tuatha de Danaan, incl. the Lia Fail which Yeats saw as corresponding to the Druidic Altar. Suzuki quotes Yeats, ‘I made my moan/And after kissed a stone’ (”Double Vision of Michael Robartes”), and remarks: ‘Is it presumptuous of me to suppose that this stone he kissed is [2] associated with the Lia Fail in Yeats’s imagination? I suppose it is for the reason that the Rock of Cahsel in County Tipperary where he stood and saw the double vision was actually the ancient historical site of the kings of Munster. In any case, it is at least it is certain that Yeats ascribed some sort of sacredness to the aged stone. (pp.2-3).

It is of great advantage to it that it is a subordinate kingodm to the crown of England; for it is from that royal fountain that the streams of justice, peace, civility, riches and all other improvements have been derived to it; so that the Irish are (as Campion says) beholding to God for being conquered. And yet Ireland has been so blind to this great point of its true intere3st that the natives have managed almost a continual war with the English ever since the first conquest thereof …’ (Preface, Hibernia Anglicana, 1689-90.)

later employs the terms ‘ridiculous’, ‘silly’, and ‘barbarous’. [6]

Quotes Irish Hudibras, lines concerning Lusk. ‘The Irish harp, whose rusty Mettle, Sounds like the patching of a Kettle. …


‘Was Nees great Wonder make on a’me,/To see the Rebels look so tame./Stalking about the Bogs and Moors/Together with their Dogs and Whores;/With a Rag, Trouses, or Brogues,/Picking of Sorrel and Sham-rogues […].’ (1689, 101-05).

Petrie: ‘The rapid decrease in the number of itinerant Performers on the Irish Harp, with the consequent decline of that tender and expressive instrument, gave the first idea of assembling the remaining Harpers dispersed over the different Provinces of Ireland. A meeting of the m was accordingly procured at a considerable expense, by the Gentlemen of Belfast on the 12th of July 1792, and liberal Premiums were distributed amongst them, according to their respective merits. … A principal motive to convene this assemblage of the remnant of the Irish Bards, was to procure, as yet unattainable, the most approved copies extant and which were therefore likely to become extinct.’ (Collection, preface; n.p.; Carpenter, p.8.)

‘With a view to throw some light on the antiquities of this country, to vindicate, in part, its history, and prove its claim to scientific as well as to military fame, I have been induced to undertake the following work. […] It is impossible for imaginatgion to conceive too highly of the pitch of excellence to which a science must have soared which was cherished with such enthusiastic regard and cultivation as that of poetry in this country. It is absolutely, for ages, the vital soul of the nation; and shall we then have no curiosity respecting the productions of genius once so celebrated and so prized? (Charlotte Brooke, Reliques, Pref., p.v) [9]

Giraldus: ‘It is only in the case of musical instruments that I find any commendable diligence in the people. They seem to me to be incomparably more skilled in these than any other people that I have seen. / The movement is not, as in the British instrument to which we are accustomed, slow and easy, but rather quick and lively, while at the same time the melody is sweet and pleasant. It is remarkable how, in spite of the great speed of the fingers, the musical proportion is maintained. The melody is kept perfect and full with unimpaired art through everything – through quivering measures and the involved use of several instruments – with a [9]rapidity that charms, a rhythmic patter that is varied, and a concord achieved through elements discordant. They harmonise at intervals of the octave and the fifth, but they always begin with B flat and with B flat end, so that everything may be rounded with the sweetness of charming sonority. They glide so subtly from one mode to another, and the grace notes so freely sport with such abandon and bewitching charm around the steady tone of the heavier sound, that the perfection of their art seems to lie in their concealing it, as if “it were the better for being hidden”. An art revealed brings shame.’ (History and Topography, John O’Meara trans, 1982, pp.102-03) [9-10]

Quotes Patrick J. Corish: ‘it has been convincingly shown that Daniel Corkery’s “hidden Ireland” of the big house in a sea of undifferentiated poverty is quite unreal.’ (Corish, The Catholic Community in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Helicon Press, 1981, p.98; see also Louis Cullen, ‘Catholics under the Penal Laws’, in Eighteenth-century Ireland, 1, 1986, pp.23-26.) [p.10]

Swift’s trans. Of Pléaráca na Ruarcach’, as ‘O’Rourke’s Feast’: ‘Come harper, strike up, but first by your Favour/Boy, give us a Cup, ay, this has some Savour.O Rourk’s jolly Boys, ne’er dreamt of the Matter/’Till roused by the Noise, and Musical Clatter/They bounce from their Nest, no longer will tarry/they rise ready drest, without one Ave Mary./They dance in a round, cuting Capers and ramping/a Mercy the Ground did not burst with their Stamping/The Floor is all wet, with Leaps and with Jumps/while the water and Sweat, Splish Splash in their Pumps … Good Lord, what a sight, after all their good Chear/for people to fight in the midst of their Beer/They rise from the Feast, and hot are their Brains/a Cubit at Least, the Length of their Skeans/What Stabs and what Cuts, what Clatt’ring of Sticks/What Strokes on Guts, what bastings and kicks./With Cudgels of Oak, well harden’d in Flame/an hundred heads broke, an hundred struck lame/You Churl, I’ll maintain, my Father built Lusk/The Castle of Slane and Carrick Drumrusk/The Earl of Kildare, and Moynalta his brother/as great as they are, I was nurs’d by their Mother/Ask that of old Madam, She’ll tell you who’s who/so far up as Adam, She knows it is true/Come down with that Beam, if Cudgells are scarce/A Blow on the Weam, and a kick on the Arse.’

For material on Charlotte Brooke from this source, see A=Z Datasets.

Terry Eagleton, ‘Aesthetics and Politics in Edmund Burke’, pp.25-34
‘The “aesthetic” [referring espec. to Alexander Baumgarten], that strange new Enlightenment discourse, concerns itself with all that which follows from our sensuous relation to the world, and crom tht which takes root in the guts and the gaze, with the way reality strikes the body on its sensory surfaces. It is only later in the evolution of German idealism that the paradigm of all this will become art; asesthetics emerges into the world of modern Europe not in the first palce as a language of art, but as a social phenomenology.’ (p.25.) ‘The only problem is where all this imitating ends: social life for Burke would appear a kind of infinite chain of representations of representations, without ground or origin. If we do as others do, who do the same, then all of these copies would seem to lack a transcendental original, and society is shattered to a wilderness of mirrors. / This ceaseless mutual mirroring has about it something of the stasis of the Lacanian imaginary, and if taken too literally would spell the death of difference and history.’ (p.28.)

regards the sublime as ‘a phallic “swelling” arising from our confrontation with danger … a suitably defused, aestheticised version of the values of the ancien regime. It is as though those traditionalist patrician virtues of daring, reverence, free-booting ambition must be at once cancelled and preserved within middle-calss life … to avoid emasculation, they must still be fostered within it in the displaced form of aesthetic experience. The sublime is an imaginary compensation for all the uproarious old upper-calss violence, tragedy repeated as comedy.’ (p.29.)

quotes, ‘We submit to what we admire, but we love what submits to us; in one case we are forced, in the other flattered, into compliance.’ (Enquiry, in Works, 1906, Vol. 1, p.161), and comments: The distinction between the beautiful and the sublime, then, is that [29] between woman and man; but it is also the difference between what Louis Althusser has called the ideological and the repressive state apparatuses.’ (pp.29-30.)

‘We shall see, however, that Burke is not so much an aesthete as an aestheticiser [of power], which makes a significant difference.’ (p.41.)

‘What the aesthetic in Burke sets its face most firmly against is the notion of natural rights … All ofthis strange homespun psycho-physiology is a kind of politics, willing to credit no theoretical notion which cannot somehow be traced to the muscular structure of the eye or the texture of the fingerpads.’ (p.32.)

‘The true danger of revolutionaries is that as fanatical anti-aestheticians they offer to reduce hegemony to maked power … angered by this iconoclasm, Burke speaks up instead for what Gramsci will later term “hegemony”’ (p.32.)

‘The law is male, but hegemony is a woman; this transvestite law, which decks itself out in female drapery, is in danger of having its phallus exposed. Power is ceasing to be aestheticised.’ (p.33.)

‘The politic victory of the aesthetic in Burke is more than a local one. Indeed one might claim that from Burke and the later Coleridge and onward throughout the nineteenth century, the aesthetic as a category is in effect captured by the political right.’ (p.34.)

‘But when Walter Benjamin instructed us that since the fascists had aestheticised politics, we must politicise aesthetics, he did not, presumably, mean tha twe must replace the aesthetic with the political. Instead, we must find our own ways to reinterpret the classical tradtion of the aesthetic, which as I hve tried to show begins life as a kind of primitive proto-materialism.’ (p.34.)

Quotes: ‘I call beauty a social quality; for when men and women, and not only they, but when others animals give us a sense of joy and pleasure in beholding them (and there are many that do so), they inspire us with sentiments of tenderness and affection towards their persons; we like ot have them near us, and we enter willingly into a kind of relation with them, unless we should have any strong reasons to the contrary.’ (Philosophical Enquiry, London 1906, Vol. 1, p.95; quoted in Eagleton, op. cit., p.27.)

‘I never remember that anything beautiful , whether a man, a beast, a bird, or a plant, was ever shown, though it were to a hundred people, that they did not all immediately [28] agree that it was beautiful.’ (Ibid., p.70; Eagleton, p.28.)

‘Whilst we consider taste merely according to its nature and species, we shall find its principles entirely uniform; but the degree in which these principles prevail, in the several individuals of mankind, is altogether as different as the principles themselves are similar.’ (Ibid., p.78; Eagleton, p.28.)

‘It is my imitation, far more than by precept, that we learn everything; and what we learn thus, we acquire not only more effectually, but more pleasantly. This forms our manners, our opinions, our lives. It is one of the strongest links of society; it is a species of mutual compliance, which all men yield to each other without constraint to themselves, and which is extremely flattering to all.’ (Ibid., p.101; Eagleton, p.29.)

‘Although imitation is one of the great instruments used by Providence in bringing our nature towards its perfection, yet if men gave themselves up to imitation entirely, [28] and each followed the other, and so on in an eternal circle, it is easy to see that there could never be any improvement amongst them.’ (Ibid., p.102; Eagleton, p.28-29.)

‘To prevent this, God has planted in man a sense of ambition, and a satisfaction arising from the contemplation of his excelling his fellows in something deemed valuable amongst them.’ (Ibid., p.102; Eagleton, p.29.)

‘We submit to what we admire, but we love what submits to us; in one case we are forced, in the other flattered, into compliance.’ (Ibid., p.161; Eagleton, p.29.)

‘The authority of the father, so useful to our well-being, and so justly venerable upon all accounts, hinders us from having tht entire love for him that we have for our mothers, where the parental authority is almost melted down into the mother’s fondness and indulgence.’ (Ibid. p.159; Eagleton, p.30.)

‘As common labour, which is a mode of pain, is the exercise of the grosser, a model of terror is the exercise of the finer parts of the system’ (Ibid., p.181; Eagleton, p.31.)

‘The rights of man are a sort of middle, incapable of definition, but not impossible to be discerned’ (Reflections, 1955 edn., p.59; Eagleton, p.32.)

‘But now all is to be changed. All the pleasing illusions which made power gentle, and obedience liberal, which harmonised the different shades of life, and which, by a bland assimilation, incorporated into politics the sentiments which beautify and soften private society, are to be dissolved by this new conquering empire of light and reason. All the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off. All the superadded ideeeas, furnished frm the wardrobe of a moral imagination, which the heart owns, and the understanding ratifies, as neessary to cover the defect of our naked, shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in our our estimation, are to be exploded as ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated fashion.’ (Ibid., p.74.)

Patrick Rafroidi, ‘Thomas Moore: Towards a Reassessment?’, pp.55-62
Cites David Hammond, ed., with foreword by Seamus Heaney, A Centenary Selection of Moore’s Melodies (Skerries, Dublin: Gilbert Dalton 1979), in which Heaney records ‘his own sense that an Irish past was woven’ out of those melodies.[n.p.; here 5]

Quotes Shelley, ‘For her wilds Ierne sent/ The sweetest lyrist of her saddest wrong,/And love taught grief to fall like music from his tongue’ (Adonais) [56]

‘It has been the fashion, of late days, to deny Moore imagination, while granting him Fancy – a distinction originating with Coleride, than whom no man more fully comprehended the great powers of Moore. The fact is that the fancy of this poet so far predominates over all his other faculties, and over the fancy of all other men, as to have induced, very naturally, the idea that he is fanciful only. But there never was a greater mistake. Never was a grosser wrong done to the fame of a true poet. In the compass of the the English language I can call to mind no poem more profoundly – more wierdly imaginative, in the best sense, thatn the lives commendcing, “I would I were by that dim lake”, which are the composition of Moore. (Edgar Allen Poe, in Poetic Principles, 1848;

Joyce; impressed by ‘O, ye dead’, while writing The Dead.

Yeats called him ‘merely an incarnate social ambition’ (Wade, Letters, 447.) [57-58]

Maginn: ‘It has often struck me with astonishment, that the people of Ireland should have so tamely submitted to Mr Thomas Moore’s audacity, in prefixing the title of Irish to his Melodies. That the tunes are Irish, I admit: but as for the songs, they in general have as much to do with Irelnd, as with Novia Scotia. What an Irish affair for example – “Go where thy Glory waits thee”, &c.? Might not it have been sung by a cheesemonger’s daughter of High Holborn when her master’s apprentice was going in a fit of valour to list himself in the third Buffs or by any other such amatory person, as well as a Hibernian virgin? And if so, where is the Irishism of the thing at all?’ [Quotes, ‘When in death I shall recline/Bear my heart to my mistress dear;/Tell her fed upon smiles and wine’] … not a man of us from Carnsore-Point to Bloody Farland [sic] would give a penny a pound for smiles; and as for wine, in the name of decency, is that a Milesian beverage?’ (Magazine Miscellanies, Blackwood 1841, p.126; here 58.) Note that Fr. Prout Maginn derived the same song from [invented] lines of the Countess de Chateaubriand addressing Francis Ist: ‘Va ou la gloire t’invite/Et quand d’orgueil palpite/Ce coeur, qu’il pense à moi!’) [58]

Kinsella: ‘It is not necessary to make heavy weather of Moore. There is critical agreement that he was not an important poet, and Moore would join in that assessment, being a modest man. But in many minds, even still, he was Ireland’s national poet. Moore’s Melodies is possibly the most popular book ever produced in Ireland. The songs, snugly fitted to their facile and graceful airs, and full of deathless phrases, are still widely sung. Moore is probably the most successful Irish poet, in either language, that has ever lived, raching a wide audience and satisfying it, and continuing to do so. None of this popular poetry bears much scrutiny. Its grasp on actuality is slight. Its designs are on the emotions more or less to the exclusion of the intelligence. And in “Oh, Blame not the Bard!” his admissions partly forestall criticism: in the time of testing he has proved inadequate, withholding his talents from the service of the oppressed and choosing to entertain the oppressor.’ (Introduction to New Oxford Book of Irish Verse, 1986; here p.60.

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