Irish Literature, The Nineteenth Century, Volume III
Editors: Peter Van De Kamp & A. Norman Jeffares
The last of the three volumes, roughly spans the last thirty years of the nineteenth century, a period which saw the emergence of the Land League, the dynamiting campaign of the Fenians, and the rise and fall of Charles Stewart Parnell. It witnessed changes in all literary genres. Standish James O’ Grady conveyed a sense of heroic excitement in his affirmation of Gaelic Irelands literary heritage. Douglas Hyde promoted Irish language and culture through his foundation of the Gaelic League. Writers affiliated with the Irish Literary Society tried to re-energise Young Ireland’s ideals of cultural nationalism. Under the aegis of Ireland’s literary renaissance a new interest in Celticism became manifest. The year after the publication of Allingham’s Collected Poems W.B. Yeats The Wanderings of Oisin marked the emergence of Irish mythology and legend in an elegant, sensuous and highly influential manner. With Wilde, Shaw, Martyn and George Moore he expanded Irelands aesthetic horizons; as Yeats introduced French Symbolisme in The Secret Rose and The Wind Among the Reeds, Oscar Wilde preached the paradoxes of decadence, Shaw uncovered society’s hypocrisies, while Martyn embraced Ibsen’s social realism, and Moore combined Zola’s naturalism with the synaesthesia of Totalkunst. Major writers combined to form Irelands National Theatre. Pioneers such as Lafcadio Hearn were exploring different cultures, which were to influence European literature and drama. The last decades of the nineteenth century were a powerfully creative period, rich in its literary collaborations, and profoundly impressive in its vitality.