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4 - The modern Irish short story: Moore and Joyce

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2010

Heather Ingman
Affiliation:
Trinity College, Dublin
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Summary

The Irish Literary Revival returned cultural energy and optimism to Ireland and, though the Revival is mainly associated with drama and poetry, this period was also responsible for beginning the transformation of Irish short fiction into the modern Irish short story. However, as we started to see at the end of the last chapter, it can be argued that the modern Irish short story was being shaped, not, as the Irish Revivalists proclaimed, by the indigenous folk tradition, but by foreign influences, including the Russian writers, Turgenev and Chekhov, the French writers, Flaubert and Maupassant, and, prefiguring James Joyce, Scandinavian writers like Ibsen. The turn of the century debates on the aesthetics of the short story were no doubt a factor in attracting Joyce, a writer unusually alert to international developments, to the form. Joyce believed that Yeats was on the wrong track with his obsession with folk themes, but he did appreciate his stories of the occult addressed to an educated elite: Stephen Hero is so impressed by Yeats' portrayal of wandering magi that he learns by heart ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ and ‘The Tables of the Law’, and traces of the card-playing Red Hanrahan have been detected in ‘After the Races’. There is a connection, too, with George Moore, who claimed, with uncertain veracity, to have helped Yeats solve a problem with one of his stories in The Secret Rose.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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