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Chapter 12 - Antiquarians and Authentics: Survival and Revival in Gaelic Writing

from Part IV - The Languages of Literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 February 2020

Matthew Campbell
Affiliation:
University of York
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Summary

Where once scholars were prone to seeing the decades prior to the foundation of the Gaelic League in 1893 as a period of little output in the way of Irish-language literature outside of the pre-Revival productions of antiquarians, recent years have seen a growing interest in the vernacular writings of this period across a range of textual formats. Nineteenth-century printed texts and manuscripts – often, more like handmade books than pre-modern codices, akin to their printed counterparts – in fact constitute the majority of the surviving corpus of Irish-language writing for the pre-1900 period. These works consisted of a mix of original writing, creatively edited collections and, above all, selected re-copied texts from earlier centuries. Fenian lays, histories of dispossession, and religious prose dominated the contents of these texts, a popularity that often encouraged antiquarians to select these same writings for publication in early scholarly editions. As such, the overlap between vernacular literary output and that of the antiquarian and proto-Revival practitioners was often greater than the contrasting backgrounds of these two communities would suggest.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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