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The Myth of Manliness in Irish National Culture, 1880-1922

The Myth of Manliness in Irish National Culture, 1880-1922

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Myth of Manliness in Irish National Culture, 1880-1922
    Book Description:

    This study aims to supply the first contextually precise account of the male gender anxieties and ambivalences haunting the culture of Irish nationalism in the period between the Act of Union and the founding of the Irish Free State. To this end, Joseph Valente focuses upon the Victorian ethos of manliness or manhood, the specific moral and political logic of which proved crucial to both the translation of British rule into British hegemony and the expression of Irish rebellion as Irish psychomachia. The influential operation of this ideological construct is traced through a wide variety of contexts, including the career of Ireland's dominant Parliamentary leader, Charles Stewart Parnell; the institutions of Irish Revivalism--cultural, educational, journalistic, and literary; the writings of both canonical authors (Yeats, Synge, Gregory, and Joyce) and subcanonical authors (James Stephens, Patrick Pearse, Lennox Robinson); and major political movements of the time, including suffragism, Sinn Fein, Na Fianna EÌ?ireann, and the Volunteers._x000B__x000B_The construct of manliness remains very much alive today, underpinning the neo-imperialist marriage of ruthless aggression and the sanctities of duty, honor, and sacrifice. Mapping its earlier colonial and postcolonial formations can help us to understand its continuing geopolitical appeal and danger.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09032-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. INTRODUCTION. The Double Bind of Irish Manhood: Historical Backgrounds and Conceptual Horizons
    (pp. 1-26)

    To trace the architecture of manliness in Victorian Britain, as distinct from the currently dominant psychoanalytic and feminist conceptions of masculinity, it is easiest to start with two cruxes that have preoccupied the critics and genealogists of manliness and might be said to involve the vertical and horizontal axes of its historical definition. First, what is the relation of manliness to its ground in masculine gender identity? Is the former merely an honorific variant on the latter, or do the two categories differ in some significant respects? Second, what is the scope of manliness, its relationship to the several patterns...

  7. 1 The Manliness of Parnell
    (pp. 27-62)

    Irish political and cultural historians have long pondered the reasons behind the tenacious hold that Charles Stewart Parnell exerted on the imagination of his compatriots. But while they have succeeded in amassing voluminous and fairly consistent evidence as to the sources and dimensions of his public appeal, they have failed, by and large, to satisfy themselves with a comprehensive explanation of what Labouchere calls “the Irish fetishism of Parnell.”¹ In trying to qualify the achievement of a figure similarly revered and martyred, mystified and then deified within his own oppressed community, Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X celebrates the eponymous hero...

  8. 2 Afterlives of Parnell: Political, Cultural, Literary
    (pp. 63-93)

    In his Nobel Prize lecture, “The Irish Dramatic Movement,” W. B. Yeats famously located the origins of the Irish Revival in the fall of Parnell and the collapse of the constitutional politics for which he stood:

    The modern literature of Ireland, and indeed all that stir of thought which prepared for the Anglo-Irish War, began when Parnell fell from power in 1891. A disillusioned and embittered Ireland turned from Parliamentary politics; an event was conceived; and the race began, as I think, to be troubled by that event’s long gestation. Dr. Hyde founded the Gaelic League, which was for many...

  9. 3 The Mother of All Sovereignty
    (pp. 94-139)

    More than just contributing some dialogue to Yeats’s blockbuster Cathleen Ni Houlihan, more than collaborating in its construction, Augusta Gregory did the lion’s share of its composition and deserves at the very least to be acknowledged as coauthor. Such is the gathering critical consensus on the true creative source of this Revivalist landmark. With the words “all mine alone,” scrawled on the first draft, Gregory herself laid claim to everything in the play up to and including the entrance of the Poor Old Woman. If her proprietary note is true, and Yeats all but conceded as much, then it is...

  10. 4 Brothers in Arms
    (pp. 140-186)

    Culled from the heroic cycle of Ulster, the legend of Cuchulain furnished the Revival with a second dominant myth of Irish manhood. Here again, Augusta Gregory stood out as the indispensable agent in the transmission of national ideals of masculinity. Among the several renditions of the Red Branch tales that appeared from 1878 to 1916, her Cuchulain at Muirthemne excelled in the unity of its narrative form, the polish of its literary style, and its consequent popularity as a source of cultural entertainment and inspiration.¹ Her treatment, moreover, was as representative in its political agenda and ideological tendencies as it...

  11. 5 “Mixed Middling”: James Joyce and Metrocolonial Manliness
    (pp. 187-236)

    Reading Ulysses in the context of an Anglo-European prose tradition, T. S. Eliot famously proclaimed its author the pioneer of a new literary approach, the “Mythic Method,” which deploys symbolic resources of past civilizations to lend a more intelligible pattern to the complexities of modern life.¹ Reading James Joyce in the context of his own native culture produces a diametrically reversed image of his achievement. What Joyce himself called the “scrupulous meanness” of his literary style registers as an ironic antidote to the strenuously mythologizing enterprise of the Irish Literary Revival: the commitment of such contemporary writers as Yeats, Gregory,...

  12. EPILOGUE. “Manhood Is All”: Yeats and the Poetics of Discipline
    (pp. 237-248)

    In one of the great synopses in literary criticism, Seamus Deane describes the life of Yeats as an epic journey into cultural and political alienation: “Yeats began his career by inventing an Ireland amenable to his imagination. He ended by finding an Ireland recalcitrant to it.” His gathering disillusionment prompted Yeats to reconceive his primary social attachments and with them his sense of geopolitical mission. He turned from being the self-styled bard of the rising Irish people-nation to the unofficial laureate of a declining Anglo-Irish subculture, adapting a political discourse that managed to be at once elitist and minoritarian, dissident...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 249-276)
  14. Index
    (pp. 277-289)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 290-290)