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The alertness to the languages and literatures of Scotland that marks Seamus Heaney’s work in all its stages is rooted in an awareness of the Scottish derivation of much of the distinctive lexis of his native region. Ignorance of and even antipathy towards Lowland dialect and culture occasionally surfaces in Irish writing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, for instance in Carleton and Yeats. Heaney’s enthusiasm for Scotland was in some respects anticipated by James Joyce, another etymologically obsessed Irish writer, though it is notable that, unlike the novelist’s, the poet’s interests included the Highland Gaelic as well as the Lowland English and Scots aspects of Scottish literary achievement. The chapter traces Heaney’s sustained engagement with Scotland in his separate capacities as editor, translator and poet and concludes by examining key intertexts between his poetry and that of Hugh MacDiarmid.
It is a point of some controversy whether we can call the Ireland of the nineteenth-century ‘Victorian’, for all that Victoria was its head of state within the United Kingdom. While not a state in itself, Ireland was certainly going through what William Carleton called in 1842 a ‘transition state’. There is much that is preliminary, provisional or even experimental about the writing of nineteenth-century Ireland, caught between Romanticism and Revival and never fully accounted for in the mainstream of Victorian literary history. The writing, too, was not located solely in Ireland: famine and mass emigration meant that the Irish found themselves in the United States, Australia or India, both as participants in decolonising movements or as servants of Empire. This chapter surveys the twin location of Irish literature, nationalist and diasporic. It focuses on the work of Carleton and Jane Elgee (Speranza) while also introducing many of the themes and authors which are the subject matter of the pages that follow.
The principles of political economy that informed the Russell government’s measures to terminate the Famine crisis were broadly addressed in journalism, political and economic pamphlets, but also in literature. As this chapter shows, fiction, in particular, engaged with three aspects of political economy: the government’s politics of non intervention, the Malthusian discourses that many supporters of political economy employed and the stereotype of Irish indolence by which the ideology of political economy was often imbued. As will be demonstrated, the fact that these works of literature responded to these societal discussions on the Irish Question is accompanied by generic shifts. In examining the Famine present or past, these literary texts explored the boundaries of genre, developing new fictional registers and forms.
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