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Daniel Corkery's Cultural Criticism

Selected Writings

Heather Laird

Publication Year: 2011

Daniel Corkery was the most influential and provocative cultural critic of the early Irish Free State. Since the 1960s, Corkery’s name, however, has become increasingly synonymous with a narrow-gauge nationalism that, in the eyes of many, has sought to stifle an emerging ‘modern’ Ireland. This publication makes the case for a reassessment of Corkery’s cultural criticism, and reveals that the commonplace depiction of a parochial and racist Corkery, while not entirely groundless, is based on a reading of his critical writings that is both selective and reductive. Corkery’s cultural criticism is viewed in this book, not as the product of a backward-looking and insular nationalism, but as intellectual work within an international context of anti-colonialism.

Published by: Cork University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

Daniel Corkery was one of the foremost Irish cultural critics of the early Free state. His contemporary prominence as a cultural commentator is evidenced by the flurry of interest that his criticism generated. Aodh de Blácam, writing in 1934, stated that Corkery’s...

Chronology of Corkery’s Life

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pp. xiii-xxiii

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Introduction: Daniel Corkery as Postcolonial Critic

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pp. 1-14

Daniel Corkery – writer, language activist, teacher and painter – was born in Cork in 1878 and died in the same city in 1964. He was educated at the Presentation Brothers, Cork, and at St Patrick’s College of Education, Dublin...

Further Reading

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pp. 15-16

Part One: The Irish Language and Gaelic Culture

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pp. 19-100

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Russian Models for Irish Litterateurs

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pp. 19-20

When a modern literature began to be created in Irish there were practically only two sources to which the writers went for models. These were English literature and the old Irish literature. English literature was on all counts a disastrous model...

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The Modernisation of Irish poetry

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pp. 20-22

When I see finicky schemes for the betterment of Irish education I find myself smiling, wanly smiling; for who that knows anything of Irish educational systems does not know the uselessness of tinkering with them at all until about...

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The Hidden Ireland

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pp. 22-41

In the latter half of the eighteenth century, whether Catholics should be free to enlist in the British army was warmly debated by the ruling caste in Ireland. It was, of course, the penal Laws that stood in the way: according to these, no Catholic...

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Eoghan Ruadh Ó Súilleabháin

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pp. 41-72

Aodhagán Ó Rathaille, that spirit so quick with all the proud and lonely sorrows of the Ireland of his time, had been buried only a little more than twenty years when, almost in the same spot of outland – one mile away, to be exact – another poet...

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The Philosophy of the Gaelic League

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pp. 72-81

The philosophy of such an association as the Gaelic League means no more than the body of thought by which it lives, the reasons it goes upon. one who is anything but a philosopher may attempt at least a sketch of these. In general the philosophy of the Gaelic...

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Review: Cré na Cille Le Máirtín Ó Cadhain

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pp. 82-85

na tuairimí atáthar a chur in iúl le níos mó ná bliain ní gá iad d’athrá. Glactar leis gur leabhar tábhactach Cré na Cille, gur scríbhneoir ó thalamh a údar. Is mian liom féachaint ar an leabhar ó dhearcadh fé leith. Is é an modh ina bhfuil...

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Review: ‘Inquisitio 1584’ Le Máire Mhac an tSaoi

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pp. 86-90

Is ar éigean atá dán dá bhfuil de dhánta i Nuabhéarsaíocht * is minicí a thagann os comhair m’ aigne ná ‘Inquisitio 1584’ ó pheann Mháire Mhac an tSaoi, agus níl uair dá dtagann ná go dtugaim taitneamh dó. tá dánta eile sa leabhar luachmhar san...

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1800–1919

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pp. 90-100

The Macpherson controversy2 was contemporaneous with the Whiteboy resistance.3 In 1760, he began publishing his Ossianic poetry. Those Fenian lays which he was challenged to produce, and which with good reason he kept to himself...

Part Two: Representing Ireland

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pp. 101-156

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Mr. Yeats in Cork

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pp. 103-105

It was rather piteous that Mr. Yeats should have as his audience here last Thursday night the members of the Literary and Scientific Society.2 I am sure he would have spoken more warmly, more vividly, if he had an audience of younger...

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The Peasant in Literature

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pp. 105-107

Much of the literature produced in Ireland of late years has been about the peasant. Some of it is in the Irish language; most in the English. The language side of the question is not what I wish to consider here. No, this surely is a good sign...

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Review: The Tent and Other Stories by Liam O’Flaherty

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pp. 107-109

The poet sang:
Deeper their voice grows, and nobler their bearing, whose youth in the fires of anguish hath died – 2
and we agree with him. But even long after youth is over, those self-same fires may rekindle themselves...

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The Literature of Collapse

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pp. 109-112

One wonders if the Literature of Collapse – such as has been in the making among us ever since the treaty was signed,2 exhibit everywhere the same characteristics. It would be an interesting thing for some calm and wise...

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On Anglo-Irish Literature

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pp. 112-131

Of Synge as a portent in Anglo-Irish literature we can have no clear idea unless we have formed for ourselves some general view of that literature as a whole. In our youth and even later it used always to be spoken of as Irish literature...

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The Playboy of the Western World

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pp. 131-149

We have now come to The Playboy of the Western World. It is Synge’s most famous piece of work, so famous indeed that one can hardly deal with it without becoming entangled in legend. to grow is of the nature of legend. ‘There were riots...

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The Colonial Branch of Anglo-Irish Literature

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pp. 149-153

As to the name of the whole of this literature: Anglo-Irish, since it prevents confusion and makes for peace. anyway it is accepted. You’ll find a chapter in the Cambridge History of English Literature headed ‘Anglo-Irish Literature...

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Jack B. Yeats Once More

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pp. 153-156

No, too much has not been written about the Jack B. Yeats exhibition.2 The promoters have been thanked, certainly not thanked too much. to establish such a precedent as they have done, is obviously an outstandingly good deed. To those who placed...

Part Three: The Nation and the State

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pp. 157-175

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Their First Fault

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pp. 159-161

Many a lyric hangs for us like a rich cloud in the air: we are glad for its balance, its rich glow, almost for its aloofness. Or such a poem we may liken to a well-shaped vase on which the colours have run and fused into a pattern more subtle and moving than the...

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A Landscape in the West

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pp. 162-164

The landscape, as if consciously, piles itself up, slowly, slowly, gathering its strength from far off against the ocean. and to stand on the cliffs, to look down through the flights of never-resting, ever-screaming seagulls on the passion of the baffled...

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The Book I am Writing Now

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pp. 164-168

The book I am writing now happens to be – God between us and all harm – a study of nationhood: my enemies will call it a boosting of nationalism. But then I have no enemies...

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The Struggle Between Native and Colonist

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pp. 168-170

The story of one of the most historic resistances known to mankind should be worthy of being based on something deeper than politics. That story is the struggle between native and colonist. as I hinted the other...

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A Story of Two Indians

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pp. 171-173

Towards the ending of our struggle for freedom in the ’twenties, Margaret O’Leary, who was afterwards to produce some well-written and well-observed novels,2 wrote me from Glengariff to say she had come on an Indian...

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What is a Nation?

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pp. 173-175

Lately I described how a law student from Cambridge, an Indian, on entering my room, immediately took up a book and from it read a passage aloud.2 That book was Macaulay’s Reviews and Essays – a book calculated to...

Part Four: Contemporary Reception

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A New Chapter of History: The Hidden Ireland

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pp. 179-180

Whether Mr. Corkery set himself the task of giving us a chapter of literary history or of social history, or yet a volume of literary criticism, it is not easy to say. He has given us none of those things, but something that is far better. What survives of our Gaelic literature...

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Gaelic Poets of Munster

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pp. 180-182

So much has been claimed for the Gaelic poetry of the eighteenth century, and so little done to show us its merits, and thoughtful people who do not know the native language, but are anxious to know about its literature, have sought in vain...

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A Book of the Moment: Gaelic Poetry Under the Penal Laws

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pp. 182-186

Lecky said that to write the history of Catholic Ireland under the penal Laws a man must draw upon the annals of France, Austria and Spain; and it is true that during the eighteenth century all the best Gaelic blood sought a career...

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The Other Hidden Ireland

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pp. 186-191

Professor Daniel Corkery’s book, The Hidden Ireland, has kept Irish literary and historical criticism in a ferment ever since its appearance nine years ago. it challenged that version of late Irish history which was set forth by Lecky and followed by almost...

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An Irish ‘Provincial'

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pp. 192-193

In these words Mr. Daniel Corkery closes a study of Synge. Those who are familiar with Mr. Corkery’s Hidden Ireland will be quite prepared for his dismissal of the whole Anglo-Irish literary movement as a manifestation...

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Synge and Irish Life1

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pp. 193-197

Surprise is necessarily short-lived, and the plays of Synge no longer affect us with the breathlessness of novelty. a slight reaction against the exuberance and wild colouring of his imagination set in shortly after his death. But the limitations...

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Corkery’s Synge

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pp. 197-199

Belloc wrote on the path to Rome.2 I am writing this on the way to Lough Derg – shall I get there? – in fact these actual words are being penned in Dundalk Station. I have just now been admiring the Mourne Mountains, seen across the...

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Synge and Ireland

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pp. 199-201

In the pages of Mr. George Moore’s Hail and Farewell, the English reader may learn much about the political and religious odds against which the new poetry and drama of ireland had to struggle for independence.2 The Playboy controversy...

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Daniel Corkery on Synge

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pp. 201-203

‘Every great and original writer,’ as Wordsworth and Coleridge agreed, ‘in proportion as he is great or original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished; he must teach the art by which he is to be seen.’2 Synge has, in no small...

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Synge and Irish Literature

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pp. 203-210

Mr. Corkery’s book falls for consideration into two divisions, into what he has to say about the work of Synge, and into his theorems and conclusions about Irish literature in English, or ‘Anglo-Irish’ literature, as he prefers to call it. Other commentators...

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Correspondence: The Heart Has Reasons

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pp. 210-211

Dear Sir, – a tag is occasionally a very useful thing, particularly when the tag carries with it the name of some great man, Pascal, for instance.2 So with Mr. Hendrick and his ‘heart whose reason is unknown to reason.’3 if people whose hearts trouble...

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Correspondence: Have We a Literature?

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pp. 212-213

Sir, – Your contributor seems to be sadly at sea about the meaning of Seán O’Faoláin’s articles on the study of Irish. Surely even a person who had failed to notice Mr. O’Faoláin’s contributions to other periodicals would not so grievously...

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Ireland Reads – Trash!

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pp. 213-215

Is Ireland culturally swamped? Of course it isn’t! Whatever may have swamped Ireland, it is not culture, English or any other sort. My friend, Professor Corkery, complains that the booksellers’ windows are a sad sight because...

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Synge

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pp. 215-220

Since the plays of John Synge were first produced in our Theatre we have seen a revolution. In those days Synge was the wicked man, the foreigner, the atheist, the traducer of the Irish people. Now, thanks to the work of...

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Irish – An Empty Barrell?

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pp. 220-224

‘Language is but the instrument conveying to us things useful to be known.’2 We are reviving Irish because we are proud of it. if there was no reason to be proud of it we would do better to let the dead rest: and if it were alive – that is to say, were...

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Correspondence: The Spirit of the Nation

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pp. 224-225

Sir, – i think it well that frank O’Connor has answered Mr. Corkery’s article on the ‘Spirit of the Nation,’2 and well that he chose to answer it passionately, for it would appear that the writer of the article is more likely to respond...

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The Emancipation of Irish Writers

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pp. 225-230

I once heard of a man who wished to found a Society for the emancipation of the Irish intellect, and who was asked, ‘Whom will you have in your Society for the emancipation of the Irish intellect? No doubt, to begin with, you will have...

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Daniel Corkery

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pp. 230-231

The book on Synge [. . .] contains the application to Anglo-Irish letters of the historical attitude outlined in The Hidden Ireland. The Introduction sums it all up, and is a marvellous piece of special pleading, though written in elusive English...

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Let Ireland Pride – in What She Has

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pp. 232-234

Would it not sound odd if one asked, is France swamped culturally?2 it would, because we all know France produces its natural quota of culture. So do we. More than our quota. The only trouble is that our finicky critics refuse...

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King of the Beggars

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pp. 234-236

There were many successors to Ó Bruadair, and as time goes on the distinction between poet and peasant vanishes, for the ‘poet’ is not now supported by rich and intelligent patronage, but has to work like any other man for his..

Notes

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pp. 237-277

Index

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pp. 279-292


E-ISBN-13: 9781908634153
E-ISBN-10: 1908634154
Print-ISBN-13: 9781859184554
Print-ISBN-10: 1859184553

Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1