The Afterlives of the Irish Literary Revival
This study examines how Irish and American writing from the early twentieth century demonstrates a continued engagement with the formal, thematic and cultural imperatives of the Irish Literary Revival. It brings together writers and intellectuals from across Ireland and the United States - including James Joyce, George William Russell (Æ), Alice Milligan, Lewis Purcell, Lady Gregory, the Fugitive-Agrarian poets, W. B. Yeats, Harriet Monroe, Alice Corbin Henderson, and Ezra Pound - whose work registers the movement's impact via imitation, homage, adaptation, appropriation, repudiation or some combination of these practices. Individual chapters read Irish and American writing from the period in the little magazines and literary journals where it first appeared, using these publications to give a material form to the larger, cross-national web of ideas and readers that linked distant regions. Until recently, scholars have been disinclined to interpret the Revival in a transnational framework, preferring instead to emphasize the cultural work its literature and drama accomplished on behalf of nationalist politics in Ireland. Yet, as this study demonstrates, the movement was imbricated in a process of cultural exchange extending well beyond Ireland's borders, resulting in a variety of revivalist afterlives that testify to the movement's extra-national influence. I use the term "afterlife" to describe the versions of revivalism produced when the movement's original impulses and strategies were, in W. H. Auden's words, "modified in the guts of the living," in some cases long after the peak of revivalist activity was supposed to have passed. The word confers a spectral quality to the movement, describing the Revival's re-emergence in new locations and at later dates. Writers in both countries engaged with revivalism, re-animating many of the debates over questions of identity, belonging and cultural authenticity that had originally motivated the movement's leaders. In doing so, such writers granted the Revival a vital afterlife, demonstrating the relevance of these debates in other national and historical contexts. The relationship this dynamic describes is one of both cross-cultural affiliation, in which intellectuals and writers are actively inspired by the example of the Irish Revival, and one of reverberation - a kind of textual haunting, where the defining features of revivalism echo in later works. The movement survived, in other words, and multiplied, finding new life in Irish and American modernists' experiments with tradition.