Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-888d5979f-bkf9v Total loading time: 0.29 Render date: 2021-10-25T15:10:58.149Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

7 - Ireland, Modernism and the 1930s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Terence Brown
Trinity College, Dublin
Get access


The annus mirabilis of literary Modernism was 1922, when Ulysses and The Waste Land were first published in two metropolitan centres, Paris and London. In Ireland, the year 1922 saw the founding of the Free State, a coincidence of chronology that ought to have stimulated more reflection than it has. For that moment when a national revolution achieved even a partial success represented an experiment in social and cultural expression just as the publication of those two works represented experiment in the artistic sphere. Each event, the founding of a post-imperial state, the publication of a novel which set in question the adequacy of realist fiction to the present moment and the issuing of the poem which sought to exploit a ‘mythical method’ the better to comprehend the ‘immense panorama of futility and anarchy’ of ‘contemporary history’ were symptomatic occasions, signs of the times, manifestions of, and reactions to, the general crisis of post-war Europe.

Ulysses and The Waste Land are of course customarily entered in the roll-call of Modernist masterpieces even by those who suspect that Modernism is so capacious a term, so ‘completely lacking in positive content’, that it is ‘the emptiest of all cultural categories’. The Irish revolution and the foundation of the Free State have not, by contrast, been considered in the context of the international Modernism of the period, however accommodatingly conceived.

The Literature of Ireland
Culture and Criticism
, pp. 88 - 103
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Anderson, P., ‘Modernity and Revolution’, in Nelson, C. and Grosberg, L. (eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (London: Macmillan, 1988), p. 332Google Scholar
Henry, P., refd by S. B. Kennedy, Irish Art and Modernism (Belfast: The Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University of Belfast, 1991), p. 20Google Scholar
Fleischmann, A., ‘Ars Nova: Irish Music in Shaping’, Ireland Today, 1 (2 July 1936), 42Google Scholar
Rocket, K.t, ‘1930s Fiction’, in Rockett, K., Gibbons, L. and Hill, J. (eds.), Cinema and Ireland (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1988), p. 61Google Scholar
Laoghaire, Liam Ó, ‘Irish Cinema and the Cinemas’, Ireland Today, 1 (January 1937), 74Google Scholar
Liammóir, M. Mac, ‘The Hectic Twenties’, Motley, 1 (7 December 1932), 11Google Scholar
Pine, R., in Luke, Peter (ed.), Enter Certain Players (Dublin: Dolmen Press, 1978), p. 74
MacGreevy, T., T. S. Eliot: A Study, Dolphin Books, No. 4 (London: Chatto and Windus, 1931), p. 34Google Scholar
Smith, S., ‘From A Great Distance: Thomas MacGreevy's Frames of Reference’, The Lace Curtain, 6 (Autumn 1978), 54Google Scholar
Jellett, M., ‘Modern Art and the Dual Ideal of Form Through the Ages’, Motley, 1, 5 (October, 1932), 8Google Scholar
Mays, J. C. C. (ed.), The Collected Poems of Denis Devlin (Dublin: Dedalus, 1989), p. 26
Beckett, S., ‘Recent Irish Poetry’, in Cohn, Ruby (ed.), Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment (London: John Calder, 1983), p. 70Google Scholar
Cited in Callinicos, A., Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989), pp. 12–13Google Scholar
Bell, M., ‘Introduction: Modern Movements in Literature’, in Bell, M. (ed.), The Contexts of English Literature 1900–1930 (London: Methuen, 1980), p. 3Google Scholar
Costigan, G., ‘Romantic Nationalism: Ireland and Europe’, Irish University Review, 3, 2 (Autumn 1973), 141–52Google Scholar
Cormack, W. J. Mc, ‘Austin Clarke: The Poet as Scapegoat of Modernism’, in Coughlan, P. and Davis, A. (eds.), Modernism and Ireland: The Poetry of the 1930s (Cork University Press, 1995), p. 75Google Scholar
Foster, J. W., ‘Irish Modernism’, in Colonial Consequences: Essays in Irish Literature and Culture (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1991), p. 48Google Scholar
Ellmann, R., James Joyce (Oxford University Press, 1959), p. 604Google Scholar
O'Faoláin, S., Vive Moi! (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1963), p. 270Google Scholar
Clarke, A., ‘Irish Poetry Today’, The Dublin Magazine (10 January–March 1935), 31Google Scholar
Corkery, D., The Hidden Ireland (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1970), p. 15Google Scholar
Corkery, D., Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature (Cork University Press, 1966), p. 13Google Scholar
Eliot, T. S., Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (London: Faber and Faber, 1948), p. 31Google Scholar
Cited by

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats