Norman Vance, Social History of Irish Literature (1990).

Chp 1: Tradition, Ireland, Literature; Chp. 2: Seventeenth-century Beginnings: Archbishop Ussher and the Earl of Roscommon; Chp. 3: The Eighteenth Century and Beyond: William Drennan and Thomas Moore; Chp. 4: The Literatures of Victorian England: William Carleton and Thomas D’Arcy McGee; Chp. 5: Revival Reviewed: St John Ervine and James Joyce; chp. 6: Contemporary Ireland and the Poetics of partition: John Hewitt and Seamus Heaney; Notes; Notes on Unpublished Sources; Select Bibl of Primary Texts; Index. Pref: … perceptions and constructions of Irish literary tradition articulate contending, sometimes damaging intuitions of identity in Ireland …

Chp. 1 [ARGUMENT]: ‘The work of revisionist literary history has just begun … cannot be assimilated to conventional views of Irish literary tradition … discusses ‘Irish literature’ and locus of particular ideological pressures limiting it to literary expression of Irish national aspiration or problematic psyche … evokes notion of ‘minor literature’ coined by Kafka and explored by David Lloyd; hypothetical continuities … resistance mythology passes over into post-colonial orthodoxy, viz Tanzania … the moderate nationalist view of Irish litertature … traces the Irish literary genius from pre-Chrisian Celtic origins in the Mythological Cycle and the Ulster Cycle through a series of occlusions and suppressions (usually attributable to England) into the nineteenth-century rediscoveries and renewals culminating in the literary renaissance … late Victorian and Edwardian Anglo-Irish literary enterprise which self-consciously annexed itself to a selective version of Gaelic culture compounded of heroic myth, legendary history, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century lyric poetry and the oral traditions of the peasantry was never satisfactorily representative of the cultural interests and heritage of either the anglo-Irish socio-economic elite or of the increasingly urbanised, English-speaking Irish people. Nor did it do justice to the range and variety of the Irish cultural past in which Irish writers in Latin and Norman-French as well as English and Gaelic had played a [9] part.

On the identification of Keating’s trans. with Dermot O’Connor, as in OCIL, see the following notice:

Norman Vance, Irish Literature: A Social History (Basil Blackwell 1990), p.22: An English translation [of Keating’s history] was published in 1723, ostensibly by Dermot O’Connor though there are grounds for ascribing the project to the notorious Donegal deist and learned adventurer, John Toland; [also] an English version owned since before March 1689/90 by Sir Robert Southwell, Secretary of State for Ireland; another translation apparently made by Timothy Roe O’Connor for Lord Orrery about 1668; though this version seems to have disappeared it is possible that it survived unidentified in Marsh’s Library; the MS translation ‘A Defence of the True History of Ireland … by Jeffry Keating’ preserved there bears no resemblance to Dermot O’Connor’s published text. Bibl., D. Berman and A Harrison, ‘John Toland and Keating’s History of Ireland (1723)’, in Donegal Annual (1984), p.25-29; Diarmaid Ó Catháin, ‘Dermot O’Connor, translator of Keating, Eighteenth Century Ireland 2 (1984), pp.25-29; Marsh’s Library, MS Z3.1.17.

Norman-French literature of Ireland includes ‘The Entrenchment of New Ross’, celebrating Sir Piers de Bermingham. (Cited in Vance, op. cit., p.26).

SEE Norman Vance, Irish Literature: A Social History (Basil Blackwell 1990) for account of Bedell’s scheme to produce composite language (p.29) his ‘universal character’ project, shared with Rev. John Johnston of TCD, to be called ‘Wit-Spell’, known and encouraged by Hartlib; manuscript, complete in 1641, torn up by suspicious Franciscans, and plates used by tinkers; rough draft brought to Oxford by Johnston’s widow, c.1650. Bibl. James Knowlson, Universal Language Schemes in England and France 1600-1800 (Toronto UP 1975), pp.9f., 76-86;

On Ussher: According to some sources, he was intensely hostile to Bishop Laud and died a Catholic. See however Norman Vance, Irish Literature: A Social History (Basil Blackwell 1990), p.34: Protestant episcopalian counterclaims to continuity with ancient Irish and British Church independent of Rome [was] one of Ussher’s major scholarly projects.

Ussher bibliography to his conservatism, which is blazoned in Trevor-Roper’s contribution on him, in ‘James Ussher’, in Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans, (Secker & Warburg 1985) [twice noticed in RX]. Also, the unnamed Jesuit with whom he conducted a controversy in Dublin Castle was a Henry Fitzsimon, distant relative.


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