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31:2, Book Reviews upside-down way, also in its style. The excellent critical portions are written with a workmanlike plainness, but elsewhere the writing becomes engagingly individual. In a time when most such books seem written by stylists with clones of minds like corrugated blotting paper, Fletcher is capable of such delights as his aside upon daisies: "Bums and Wordsworth both wrote rather warmly of these tiresome flowers." He is a bit too given to mandarin words like "sparagmos . . . melismatic . . . sucrone . . . chiliastic . . . fritillary ," but he is capable of a phrase like "the debris of fact" or a delicious sentence like: The Unionist parody of the State Irishman, an impractical, comically melodramatic boyo: Punch's "eternal knee-breeched pipe-inthe -Caubeen travesty," hot wax in the shifty hands of priests and ever gargling and ullulating archaically what Edmund Gosse called "the eternal snivel of Ireland," but which a later generation more vividly perhaps terms "whinging." In sum» a ragbag of a book, but some of the rags are of silk. Robert Hogan University of Delaware YEATSIAN TRADITION Robert F. Garratt. Modern Irish Poetry: Tradition and Continuity from Yeats to Heaney. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. $25.00 Larry Brunner. Tragic Victory: The Doctrine of Subjective Salvation in the Poetry of W. B.Yeats. Troy, NY: Whitson Publishing, 1987. $18.50 Robert Garratt's Modern Irish Poetry: Tradition and Continuity from Yeats to Heaney is a major contribution to the study of modem Irish literature. His survey focuses on the relationship of six major modem Irish poets to the Irish poetic tradition, in particular on the tension between what Garratt calls "tradition" and "continuity." He argues that Austin Clarke, Patrick Kavanagh, Thomas Kinsella, John Montague, Seamus Heaney, and Derek Mahon eschewed the Yeatsian heritage, moving Irish poetry "from romanticism to modernism": "The chief task facing these writers has been the redirection of poetry in Ireland, away from the romantic Revivalism and the mythmaking of Yeats's Ascendancy tradition toward a Joycean acceptance of the modem world. ... In choosing the real experience of twentieth-century Irish life instead of a romantic version of a historical and mythical Ireland, the post-Yeatsian poet has had to surrender the security of structure for the insecurity of innovation." Garratt's thematic study offers original insights and an impressive synthesis of earlier criticism. He demonstrates how, writing under the shadow of Yeats, these poets struggled to be at once traditional and original, and how they 220 31:2, Book Reviews continually revised and interpreted Irish poetic tradition, measuring its efficacy for their own work. Garratt presents significant perspectives on the entire tradition of modem Irish poetry and insightful analysis of individual poets and poems. My only reservation about Garratt's book concerns a secondary perspective that informs and consequently limits some of his analyses and conclusions. His focus on the transition from romanticism to modernism in modem Irish poetry incorporates an insistence that Yeats and Joyce represented "antithetical" aspects of the poetic heritage. In the process of establishing this dichotomy between Yeats and Joyce, Garratt occasionally oversimplifies both Yeats and Joyce and underestimates the so-called Yeatsian tradition. Therefore, my praise for this highly impressive book will be qualified as I note some limitations in Garratt's interpretation of Yeats. Garratt's introduction discusses how these six post-Yeatsian poets accept discontinuity as a dominant feature of their cultural past because as they faced and coped with the implications of the loss of the Gaelic language, they inevitably faced a problem of continuity. Garratt claims this recognition of the discontinuity of Irish culture to be "the essentially Joycean direction of Irish poetry." In my opinion, this is not an essentially Joycean or postYeatsian problem. Yeats's own interest in Irish folklore involved an intense awareness of the gulf in language and culture that existed between pre-Famine and post-Famine Ireland. Although Yeats's solution to the discontinuity was different and the post-Yeatsian poets rejected many aspects of his solution, Yeats and others before him had faced the problem of discontinuity. Yeats embodied as well as generated the central irony of the Revival: the reclamation of the Irish literary heritage was in English rather...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 220-226
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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