From the origins to 1800
According to topschoolsintheusa, the oldest Irish literature develops according to a periodization that corresponds to the different phases of Gaelic between the 7th century. and the 16th (➔ Celts). Modern Irish literature was born in the 17th century, when British colonization had erased the ancient social order and literature and the culture that they were an expression of that order, but Gaelic was still the language used by most of the island’s residents (and remained so until the mid-19th century). The political-military domination was matched by English historians and polemicists with a reflection on colonization and colonized countries, of which View of the present of Ireland (1633) by E. Spenser. Precisely to refute his theses, the work that marks the transition to modern Irish literature was written, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn (“History of Ireland”, 1634) by the priest Séathrún Céitinn, known as Geoffrey Keating. A similar purpose is at the basis of the Annala Rioghachta Eireann (“Annals of the Kings of Ireland”), the most important Irish annalistic collection known as the Annals of the four masters with reference to the four scholars who compiled it in 1636.
Among the last representatives of the bard tradition are Tadhg Dall Ó Uiginn (16th century), Piaras Féiriteir, strenuous animator of the fight against O. Cromwell, hanged in 1653, and the famous harpist and poet Toirdhealbhách Ó Cearbhalláin, known as Turlogh O’Carolan (17th-18th century).
At the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. some authors of a legitimist (Jacobite) political orientation appear who take up the ancient aislings (“visions”), to evoke the Ireland in the form of a woman who mourns her own fate and invokes the return of her legitimate spouse. In particular we remember Aogán Ó Rathaille, known as Egan O’Rahilly and Eoghan Ruadh Ó Súillebháin, known as Owen Roe O’Sullivan.
Transported by the closed circles of patrons among the people, Irish poetry changes its formal structure: the consonant rhyme is replaced by the vowel, the rhythm determined by the number of syllables is followed by the accentual rhythm. At the same time satire flourishes, which gives the happiest results in the famous poem by Brian Mac Giolla Meidhre, known as Brian Merriman, Cúirt an Mheádhon Oidhche (“The Midnight Court”, 1800) and in the anonymous prose text Pairlimint Chloinne Thomáis (“The parliament of the Thomas clan”).
In 1592, with the birth of Trinity College in Dublin, the formation of a new ruling class, Protestant and English-speaking, had begun. The greatest flourishing of Anglo-Irish civilization came with the writers J. Swift, W. Congreve, G. Farquhar, O. Goldsmith, and with the philosophers G. Berkeley and E. Burke.
The Act of union (1800), which ratified the country’s total administrative and legislative subjection to the English government, and the subsequent emancipation of Catholics (1829), who were able to access schools and public offices, resulted in the birth of a Catholic middle class. and pro-English.
From the 19th century to 1921
The literature produced in Ireland in the first half of the 19th century. it is mainly the work of the Anglo-Irish ruling class which, dissatisfied with the oppressive link with London, developed a new sensibility. Writers continued to use the English language, but often took the disastrous carelessness with which British landowners ran their estates and the plight of Irish peasants as the subject of their narratives. The writer’s novels Castle Rackrent (1800) and The absentee (1812) are exemplary M. Edgeworth, which ends the happiest season of Anglo-Irish literature. They were still protagonists, gradually more assimilable to the properly English culture, CR Maturin, W. Carleton, CJ Lever, JS Le Fanu. In full romantic climate, T. Moore, with his Irish melodies, he was considered the national poet for a century. T. Davis published his patriotic ballads in The Nation, an organ of the extremist Young Ireland party he founded (1842). S. Ferguson, a connoisseur of Gaelic, recovered the ancient Celtic tradition by adapting myths and legends into English, imaginatively revisited. Vast was the influence exerted by S. O’Grady, author of a History of Ireland in the heroic period (1878-80), in which he reshaped the legendary material. The work of historians, archaeologists and philologists was decisive for the literary revival in Ireland alongside that of the poets. Among the historians occupy an important place WEH Lecky, author of the History of England in the eighteenth century (12 vol., 5 of which dedicated to Ireland), e D. Hyde, founder of the Gaelic League (1893) and future president of the Free State from. (1937-45).
In 1888 WB Yeats published an anthology of Poems and ballads of Young Ireland, partly patriotic. Ideologist of the so-called Celtic revival (“Celtic Renaissance”), an eclectic cultural movement in which nationalist impulses are flanked by decadent and symbolist suggestions, Yeats started the realization of his cultural project by establishing the National literary society in London (1892); later, together with Lady IA Gregory and the playwright E. Martyn, founded the Irish literature theater. In 1902 the Irish National Theater Society was born, which from 1904 had its definitive headquarters, the Abbey Theater of Dublin. Until 1920, when he had to accept a government subsidy that turned it into a public institution, the Abbey Theater he realized the need for an independent theater from the English tradition that had been expressed by the Young Ireland movement since its foundation / “> foundation.
After Yeats’s poetic and symbolist theater and the ‘magical realism’ of the dramatic works of Lady Gregory and IM Synge, there was a tendency to move away from Ireland mythical to focus on the new country that was emerging from the struggles against England. It was to inaugurate the new phase P. Colum, in his wake W. Boyle targeted village bigotry and opportunism; L. Robinson gave a bitter representation of the pride of the upper classes in the province; on the other hand, S. O’Kelly showed the misery of the lower strata of the population; St. J. Ervine criticized religious intransigence and widespread preconceptions; and TC Murray he discussed the problem of young people forced into the priesthood. This realistic phase practically ended with the Anglo-Irish War. In 1921, with the creation of the Free State of Ireland, the literary parable of the Celtic Renaissance can be considered concluded. The need for a revival of Gaelic as a spoken language, endorsed by the government of the free state and then of the Republic of Ireland, remained essentially a utopia; otherwise, the literary production in Gaelic continued its spontaneous course.