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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Irish Literary Renascence
Critical Introduction by Lloyd R. Morris (1893–1954)
 
THE IRISH literary renascence has been but one phase of a social and intellectual synthesis having its source in political and economic history, and as largely concerned with social and economic progress as it has been with the art by which it is most widely known. Its contributions to the various fields of activity in which it has found expression have all been dominated by a common ideal, the reconstruction of Irish life. And the literature produced under the inspiration of this ideal has been the immediate result of a deliberate desire to give expression to the racial and national consciousness and to influence it in certain specific directions. So that, although the most important contributions to this literature have been written in the English language, Irish writers during the last thirty years have, for the most part, repudiated the English literary tradition, and have busied themselves with the creation of a purely racial art.  1
  The date usually given as that of the inauguration of the renascence is 1889, the year in which ‘The Wanderings of Oisin,’ by William Butler Yeats, and ‘Leabhar Sgeuluigheacta’ (A Book of Folk-Stories), by Dr. Douglas Hyde, were published. In the years immediately preceding, literary creation had not been entirely stagnant in Ireland, nor had Celtic studies been neglected on the Continent. The Young Ireland Movement had produced two noteworthy writers, John Mitchel, author of the ‘Jail Journal,’ and Thomas Davis, editor of The Nation. Both Davis and Mitchel were primarily actuated by the ideal of a politically free Ireland; Mitchel hoping for a revolution, and Davis instituting a propaganda for moral and intellectual reform. James Mangan, a lyricist of indubitable power, and Edward Walsh, who wrote many finely poetic translations from the Gaelic, contributed to The Nation. In 1859 Ernest Renan published his essay on ‘The Poetry of the Celtic Races,’ and was followed in 1867 by Matthew Arnold with ‘On the Study of Celtic Literature,’ while in 1853 Zeuss, in Germany, had inaugurated the systematic study of Celtic philology with his ‘Grammatica Celtica.’ In 1870 M. Henri Gaidoz founded the Revue Celtique in Paris, and ten years later the Collège de France endowed a chair in Celtic literature.  2
  Meanwhile in Ireland the revolution of 1848 was succeeded by the Famine, the Coercion Acts, the great emigration and the rise of the Fenian party. Fenianism found its best expression in literature in the poetry of Charles Kickham and Ellen O’Leary, verse that was less fiery than that of the Young Irelanders, and less hopeful in its outlook. During the period of Fenianism Sir Samuel Ferguson, William Ailingham, and Aubrey de Vere were writing poetry that found none of its inspiration in politics. Ferguson was concerned chiefly with the old hero-tales, Allingham wrote out of the peasant life of the western counties, and de Vere was influenced equally by Ireland, the Catholic tradition, and Wordsworth. George Sigerson (‘The Poets and Poetry of Munster,’ 1860), Standish O’Grady (‘Heroic Period,’ 1878), and P. W. Joyce (‘Old Celtic Romances,’ 1879) began to translate and adapt the great body of Gaelic literature dealing with the heroic antiquity of Ireland, and, in so doing, provided a fruitful source for much subsequent literary activity.  3
 
Language Movements

  Yeats and Hyde were actuated by the same motive, the creation of a literature illuminated by the race consciousness, free from intellectual dependence upon England, and relying upon a purely Irish tradition. They differed, however, in the methods by means of which they proposed to envisage their ideal. Dr. Hyde believed that the soul of a nation finds its expression in the national language, and instituted a propaganda for the preservation and revival of Gaelic as a living language, which resulted, in 1893, in the formation of the Gaelic League. In the same year, in pursuance of his desire to create a modern literature in Gaelic, he published ‘Love Songs of Connacht’ a collection of the folk-poetry of a single province, accompanied by a literal translation into the English equivalent. This translation marks the first use of the peasant dialect of the west (Anglo-Irish) as a medium of artistic expression. It was followed by ‘The Three Sorrows of Storytelling’ (1895), ‘A Literary History of Ireland’ (1899), and ‘The Religious Songs of Connacht’ (1906). Anglo-Irish, as it is actually spoken by the peasants and as it has come to be employed as the language of literature, is nothing other than a rendering of the Gaelic into an English equivalent, preserving in the transition the grammar, the word order, and the diction of Gaelic. As it has come to be used in modern Irish literature it is a language of emotional excitement, uncontrolled by convention, unsophisticated in its observation of experience, immediate and vigorous in its expression, and having its basis, like all highly imaginative diction, in an accurate and concrete vision of reality. Its contribution to modern English letters has been not so much the introduction of a new vocabulary as of a new way of looking at life that, coming in a period of academic detachment, excites in the reader the superb shock of the unexpected.
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  In the meanwhile Yeats had conceived the project of creating a literature that would adequately express the Celtic consciousness in the English language; in the collection of folk-lore with which he had busied himself, he became acquainted with the peasant idiom, and, allured by the wealth and the poetry of its expression, he advocated its use in literature. In this doctrine he has been more lately joined by Thomas MacDonagh, a young poet and critic who participated in and was executed after the Rebellion of April, 1916. The thesis of their contention is that English is essentially an impoverished language, incapable of directly expressing thought, for it has become practically impossible for a writer to distinguish between the substance of his thought and the conventional phrase which is its code in expression. They view English as a language that has lost its vitality, as an imperfect algebra of thought, and they counsel the use of Anglo-Irish, which, since it is a colloquial and not a literary language, has never been standardized in its suggestiveness or bereft of its power to reflect with equal richness of connotation the concreteness of life and the abstraction of thought and emotion. The historical justification of this theory lies in the fact that the peasant idiom is a fusion of Elizabethan English and the rough old mold of the Gaelic tongue, and as such it is the medium most purely adapted to the Celtic mind and to Celtic life.  5
 
Critical Theories

  Thus, in the beginning of the renascence, three critical theories of expression came into being, and three languages were advocated as mediums of an Irish literature. On the one hand, the followers of Dr. Hyde counseled the employment of Gaelic; the followers of Yeats, subscribers to what has come to be called the “language movement,” have advocated the use of Anglo-Irish; and there have been writers who, writing of Ireland in English, have wished Irish literature to become a part of the literature of contemporary England. Closely allied with this critical discussion, and in a measure proceeding from it, was another, dealing with the question of nationality and cosmopolitanism in art. The chief contributions made to both are accessible in two little volumes, ‘Literary Ideals in Ireland’ (1899), and ‘Ideals in Ireland’ (1901).
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  In opposition to the language movement “John Eglinton” (W. K. Magee) urged the futility of attempting to dispense with centuries of English culture, and of resuscitating a language that was the expression neither of a superior culture imposed from without, nor of a native and indigenous culture or spiritual life of any distinctive individuality. He believed that a spiritual renascence of nationality would find its realization in a thought movement rather than in a language movement. Eglinton is the author of the most acute criticism that the renascence has yet inspired, a writer whose trenchant, powerful style and rugged thought place him among the most valuable of contemporary essayists. His three slim volumes, ‘Two Essays on the Remnant’ (1895), ‘Pebbles from a Brook’ (1901), and ‘Bards and Saints’ (1906), embody a statement of his mystic philosophy, his belief in the necessity for a cosmopolitan spirit in literature, his plea for individualism in thought as well as in life.  7
  During this period, the birth of an Irish literary movement had announced itself in the work of several poets, foremost among whom were William Butler Yeats and George W. Russell. Since the work of Yeats is dealt with at length in a separate article in this LIBRARY, no further treatment of it will enter into this essay. George W. Russell, better known by his pseudonym of “A. E.,” has contributed to poetry, the drama, criticism, to painting and social economy. His is the most versatile and in many respects the most compelling genius brought into prominence by the renascence. The contents of his two volumes of poetry, ‘Homeward Songs by the Way’ (1894), and ‘The Earth Breath’ (1897), reappear in ‘Collected Poems’ (1914); his essays, critical and philosophic, are collected in ‘Imaginations and Reveries’ (1915), and his social and economic doctrine, the result of his labors with the co-operative movement in agriculture, appears in ‘Co-operation and Nationality’ (1912), and ‘The National Being’ (1916).  8
 
Philosophy

  With Eglinton and Yeats, “A. E.” had been one of the founders of the Hermetic Society in Dublin, a group of young men interested in exploring the philosophy of the Orient. To comprehend his view of life one must return by way of Blake and Jacob Boehme, by way of Swedenborg and Crashaw and Santa Teresa to the neoplatonists of Alexandria, to Plato, and to the sacred books of the East. Plato, it will be remembered, believed that inspiration is a divine madness achieved by those who have kept the soul sensitive to beauty. A similar belief underlies “A. E.”’s reaction to life. He believes in the reality of a spiritual world of which the world as we know it is but an incomplete adumbration, and that man is winning his way back to his former godly estate through a cyclic life in which his soul achieves moments of harmony with the life of the world-spirit. These moments of ecstasy, of vision, in which the soul has its life apart, come most frequently through the influence of pain, the great dispenser of knowledge, or in communion with nature, whose beauty is the most perfect that the senses know, and thus leads man to the spiritual beauty vouchsafed in a moment of vision. “A. E.”’s verse, and much of his prose, is the record of these spiritual adventures, and is instinct with the pantheism that is the core of his philosophy. He is, however, a painter, and as a poet has delighted to reproduce in his verse something of the glory that appeals to the eye. And he is a poet of protest, as well, reacting against a creed that decrees punishment for the soul that has committed acts which it never promised not to commit. He represents the national spirit of Ireland to a peculiar degree, for he sings of that other world of which this is but the shadow, that universe of the spirit which in Ireland, because of her wrongs, has dominated the minds of men to the exclusion of the material world of existence. He voices above all her spirituality, her dreams, her aspirations, the wistful beauty of her landscape, and it is in his poetry that Ireland has found her most perfect expression in modern literature.
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Poetry

  Contemporary with the earlier writings of “A. E.” are the poems of Lionel Johnson, whose verse reflects the four abiding loves that dominated his spiritual and intellectual life: Winchester, his school; the languages and literatures of Greece and Rome; Ireland; and Catholicism. His progenitor in Irish literature was Aubrey de Vere, between whose stately, meditative verse and the work of Lionel Johnson there are many points of contact. Unlike Dowson and Symons, and the other poets of the eighteen-nineties, to whom he was bound by ties of friendship, Johnson was not a romanticist, he did not seek to express the sordid phases of emotional life, nor did he subscribe to the tenets of the “æsthetic movement” under the influence of Pater and Wilde. He was in every sense of the word a classicist, a faultless technician in the accepted forms, a writer of verse that fulfilled the definition of Milton—that it be simple, sensuous, and passionate. Akin to his in feeling, though of less value in accomplishment, is the verse of Mrs. Katherine Tynan Hinkson. Her range is more limited than that of Johnson, her mood less austere and deeply reflective, and she has been influenced less than he by the mystical aspect of her religion. She sings of the simple beauty of country life, and of the religious ideals that found embodiment in the teaching of Saint Francis of Assisi; the chief characteristics of her verse are a certain delicate sympathy with the weak, with children, animals, and an instinctive love of natural beauty. Of the feminine poets of the renascence there have been not a few with as sure a claim to distinction as that of Mrs. Hinkson. “Ethna Carberry” (Mrs. Seumas MacManus) wrote, in ‘The Four Winds of Erin’ (1902), out of the heart of Ireland’s sorrows and dreams; “Moira O’Neill” (Mrs. Nesta Higginson Skrine) has written powerfully of the Irish countryside in ‘Songs of the Glens of Antrim’ (1900), and Mrs. Nora Hopper Chesson has revealed herself a master of poetic expression and has clothed eternal emotions in the symbols of a legendary past. Dora Sigerson Shorter (Mrs. Clement Shorter) has become known as a balladist whose ability to convey reality, to render a mood in a few deft lines, and whose chief virtues, compression, restraint, and dramatic power, earned her high praise from George Meredith.
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  Alfred Percival Graves, well known as an editor of anthologies, has written in ‘Songs of the Gael’ and ‘A Gaelic Story Telling’ (1908) of the humor and drama of peasant life. Dr. Sigerson has written beautiful translations from the Gaelic, and has been followed by T. W. Rolleston, who has contributed to both literature and scholarship in his versions of the old legends, ‘Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race’ (1911), and to poetry in his collected poems, ‘Sea Spray’ (1908). William Larminie, in ‘West Irish Folk Tales’ (1893), and Lady Gregory, in ‘Cuchulain of Muirthemne’ (1902), ‘The Kiltartan History Book’ (1909), ‘A Book of Saints and Wonders’ (1906), have both contributed to the literature that is concerned chiefly with the legends of Ireland’s heroic past. Lady Gregory’s prose versions of these legends are written, as most of her plays are also written, in the peasant dialect of Kiltartan; in this respect she, as well as J. M. Synge (q. v.), have followed the theories of the language movement, and the translations of Dr. Hyde.  11
  In 1904 “A. E.” edited a little anthology of the work of eight younger poets, ‘New Songs,’ all of whom have since become well known to lovers of modern Irish poetry. Alice Milligan has written many patriotic poems of noteworthy excellence, the best of which are comprised in ‘Hero Lays’ (1908). Eva Gore-Booth, Susan Mitchell, and Ella Young have all been influenced by the tendency toward a mystical interpretation of life that has found its most enduring expression in the poetry of “A. E.” himself. Among the men whose work is represented in ‘New Songs’ are Padraic Colum and Seumas O’Sullivan, and to their names must be added those of James Stephens,’ Charles Weekes, Thomas MacDonagh, and Francis Ledwidge.  12
  Padraic Colum is better known as a dramatist than as a poet. His single volume of verse, ‘Wild Earth’ (1907), is concerned with the three loves nearest to his heart: love of woman, of adventure, and of the land. For all their hardness and stern objectivity, the dominant note of his poems is love for the adventure of life and courage to assume it. Seumas O’Sullivan, Thomas Keohler, Thomas MacDonagh, and Charles Weekes are all followers of the mystic tradition. Joseph Campbell (Seosamh MacCathmhaoil) has written verse instinct with the life of Donegal. The reaction against the earlier tradition of “Celticism,” of tenuous mysticism and complex imagery, has found expression in the poetry of J. M. Synge, of Patrick MacGill, and of James Stephens. Their verse seeks no refuge from life in a world of heroic legend or ideality, it is grim with the facts of life, in full revolt against the bequeathed conventions that involve an eternal acceptance of squalor, misery, and despair; although not insensible to beauty, they find in humanity, and more particularly in the life of the Irish peasantry, their chief concern. The latest of the younger choir of Irish poets to have achieved fame is Francis Ledwidge. His verse, ‘Songs of the Fields’ (1915), is a celebration of the beauty of nature. It is neither symbolic, mystical, nor introspective, but joyous, exuberant, beautifully cadenced, and expressive of an intuitive feeling for the image-making values of words.  13
  The poetry of the Irish renascence, so briefly reviewed, has followed three tendencies. The movement instituted by Yeats, which threw all its energy into recovering the glory of the past, and seeking a refuge from life in symbol and in vision, became standardized and bereft of its beauty and has died away. Yeats has turned his attention to the drama, and “A. E.” has drifted more and more deeply into the social reorganization to which the movement for agricultural reform has drawn him. The younger generation has turned away from symbolism, mysticism, and the exploration of legend, to contact with the direct reality of experience, and their work is almost wholly given to an expression of the conditions and relations of everyday life. One theme, however, has been common to all; an abiding devotion to the ideal of nationality and the spiritual renascence whereby they have hoped to encompass it. This ideal, fundamental in the thought that produced the renascence itself, has received many interpretations and many varied expressions. It has been identified with a vision of spiritual life and spiritual beauty, and it has taken the clothing of symbols drawn from the heroic legends of the past. In the work of those poets who have revolted from what they feel to be a tenuous ideal seeking refuge in the past, it has been productive of social criticism of modern Irish life, emphasized often by trenchant satire, and also by a deep concern with the bitter realities of existence. But the critical spirit of the Irish poets has been directed toward awakening a people to their ideals and the destiny that is theirs if they will but labor at the reconstruction of their racial and national life.  14
 
The Drama

  From 1899 on, the greater number of Irish writers turned their attention from poetry to the drama, encouraged by the example of Yeats, who, feeling that the drama is the most democratic of the arts, founded, with the assistance of Edward Martyn, Lady Gregory, and George Moore, a little company of players and playwrights that later became the Abbey Theatre. The work of Yeats, of Moore, and of the most important of the Irish playwrights, J. M. Synge, forms the subject of individual articles, to which the reader is referred. The dramatic movement owed its inception in part to a reaction against the naturalism of the commercial theatre, and in part to a desire to produce a drama of intellectual and literary distinction conveying a serious reading and vision of life. Edward Martyn in ‘Maeve’ and ‘The Heather Field’ (both 1899) revealed a poetic imagination clogged by an insufficient dramatic technique. A follower of Ibsen in his choice of subject, he rebelled against the movement’s growing concern with the drama of peasant life, and left it early in its career. The chief value of his art lies in its beauty of idea, but the dialogue of his plays, excepting in rare moments of lyric enthusiasm, is labored and stiff, and conveys little illusion of reality. The emotion of his plays is often cold and hard, and the plays themselves evidence a singular inability to realize and project feminine character.
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  Lady Gregory has been the most prolific writer of those who have been responsible for the dramatic movement. She has written twenty-one plays, six volumes of prose, and seven translations from the dramatic literatures of other nations. She has been assiduous in the collection of dialect and folk-lore in the village of Kiltartan in Galway, and it is in this idiom that most of her writing has been clothed. The greater number of her plays were composed during a transient decline in the production of material available for performance at the Abbey, in order that the company’s activity might continue without interruption. She began as a writer of comedies which, as she writes, “everybody else calls farces,” and it is in this genre that her most conspicuous success has been earned. Her plays are built upon a slight, almost anecdotal, texture, insufficient for the creation of an enduring drama; they illustrate no conflict of will, passion, or emotion; they lack the subtle discrimination and finely selective sense of the thoroughly trained dramatist. They are facile, witty, often satirical, the record of a mind conscious of its intellectual superiority to the picturesque incongruities which it has observed. Her talent is for externalized situation, but her interest in drama is inevitably subordinated to her interest in folk idiom and legend.  16
  Dr. Hyde has written most of his plays in Gaelic, and some have been translated into Anglo-Irish by Lady Gregory, who in several instances has also provided the scenario. They evidence an abundant humor and some poetic beauty. “A. E.” has written one play, ‘Deirdre’ (1907), in chiseled and beautiful prose, which fails as vital drama. Neither Dr. Hyde nor “A. E.” can be considered essentially dramatic writers, for in each case playwriting was an accidental avocation.  17
  We may pass over the work of the many minor dramatists whose plays have been performed at the Abbey, and deal briefly with the work of the more important younger writers. They are six in number: Padraic Colum, S. Lennox Robinson, T. C. Murray, “Rutherford Mayne” (S. Waddell), St. John Greer Ervine, and Lord Dunsany. The work of the first five exhibits the curious change that the dramatic movement in Ireland has undergone since its inception in 1899. It began with an attempt to produce literary plays; it brought forth poetic tragedy, a drama of ideas, and realistic satire of contemporary life. Then, with Yeats as the dominating spirit, it was hoped that a school of writers having at their command the resources of a beautiful language would arise and create a folk-drama and poetic plays founded upon legendary lore. With the advent of J. M. Synge, the dominant influence suffered a change. Realism took the place of romance; the wild, primitive, elemental nature of the peasant became the chief interest of the dramatists, and the peasant conceived in terms of spirituality and mystic faith, and living wholly in a dream world, was lost sight of during the ensuing reaction against the theories of Yeats. In the plays of Synge the romantic and realistic conceptions of life met in their fullest intensity. And they have had a vital effect upon all subsequent Irish plays.  18
  Colum, Robinson, Murray, Mayne, and Ervine have dealt with the actual life of the peasantry, the tragedy of the quest for land, the bitterness of poverty, the humdrum daily life of village folk. They have centered their attention upon the commonplace, and in it have discovered a new and potent beauty. The tradition of “Celticism” has almost wholly disappeared from the contemporary Irish drama. It may be questioned whether the fate-burdened peasant of their plays is more truthful to the life of Ireland as it is actually being lived than was the “stage Irishman” of Boucicault and his school, or the visionary dreamer of the earlier work of Yeats. Almost the only followers of Yeats of any importance have been Lady Gregory, whose historical plays are neither especially valuable as literature nor powerful as drama, and William Sharp, whose plays remain unproduced. Lord Dunsany, whose several volumes of prose tales and ‘Five Plays’ (1914) have revealed a myth-making imagination, has created an Oriental mythology totally remote from all Irish legend, and with exquisite irony has portrayed the combat of man with the gods, the creations of his own ignorance, and with the destructive forces of time and change, the illustrations of his own futility.  19
  The younger school refuses to find consolation and refuge either in its dreams or in an heroic past. They produce social criticism in order to enforce the changes which they desire Ireland to undergo; if they are extreme in their satire and pessimistic in their tragic conception of life, it is because propaganda must necessarily enforce its point by exaggerating and emphasizing conditions as they exist. Their propaganda, however, is not concerned with art, but with actual experience; what they have done is to turn from art to life, and by doing so they have laid the foundations of their art upon a firmer soil.  20
 
The Novel

  The novel has been the one literary form in the manipulation of which Irish writers have been conspicuously deficient. With the exception of George Moore, no Irishman of the renascence had written a novel of the first rank until the advent of James Stephens. Many writers have essayed the novel, among them Jane Barlow, Canon Sheehan, “George Birmingham” (Rev. J. O. Hannay), the two ladies who write under the pseudonym of “E. Œ. Sommerville and Martin Ross,” Hon. Emily Lawless, Shan Bullock, who has written effective studies of peasant life in the north, and William Buckley, whose ‘Croppies Lie Down’ (1903) was an excellent study of life in Ulster; but without any compelling success.
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  Three novelists have, however, arisen in Ireland during the last few years whose work seems destined to endure. They are St. John G. Ervine, author of ‘Eight O’Clock and Other Studies’ (1912), ‘Mrs. Martin’s Man’ (1914), and ‘Alice and a Family’ (1915); Patrick MacGill, author of ‘Children of the Dead End’ (1914) and ‘The Rat-Pit’ (1915), and James Stephens. Ervine writes of the middle classes of Ulster with a spare and direct realism; his interest lies rather in the mental life of his characters in its relation to their social life than in the purely external details of existence. He conceives life as a continuous process, without beginning and without end, and in making the selection that art demands, chooses only a point of departure and one of conclusion. He obtrudes no moral conviction upon his audience, but, as he himself has written, the rebuke lies in the material of his art. MacGill writes of the evils of casual and migratory labor, of the grim and hopeless lives of the western counties; his books come out of the warp and the woof of life, and in their telling are so relentlessly natural, and exhibit so curious a lack of rhetorical indignation, that their power as social documents can be compared with the best in recent Russian letters.  22
  James Stephens has written three novels, ‘The Charwoman’s Daughter’ (1912), ‘The Crock of Gold’ (1912), and ‘The Demigods’ (1914); and one volume of short stories and studies, ‘Here Are Ladies’ (1913). The fundamental point of view that underlies his approach to life consists in regarding everything that forms a part of human experience as a part of reality. Understanding of life is achieved only in the degree that life is experienced, and the sole open sesame to existence lies in sensitivity of intuition and keenness of perception. To live adequately is to realize, emotionally and intellectually, the widest range of experience that life offers to the individual, to hold the spirit open to the dynamic force of change, and to avoid the settled convictions, time-savers in thinking, upon which our modern society is founded.  23
  The author ‘Euphues,’ was the first English novelist to bring the novel indoors, and the essential contribution of James Stephens to the trend of modern fiction lies in the fact that, unlike Lyly, he has taken the novel from the narrow confines of the house and brought it again into the open air. Romance he finds in what to nature would have been the commonplace had not society intervened, and by making nature unnatural, made natural life romantic in its splendid isolation. So that his characters, although they possess the modern mind, live in an amoral world and deal directly with experience.  24
  “Humor,” says the angel Finaun in ‘The Demigods,’ “is the health of the mind.” The vantage point of Stephens’s humor is an attitude of open-mindedness, a denial of completed convictions, and a sensitive awareness of the quality of life. He is a realist, and he is one of the great imaginative authors in recent English literature. He brings to the reader the Irish belief in legend, Irish humor, the Irish other world, and an art, merry, sane, varied in its temper, that is woven directly from the life that he knows, and that has for its subject humanity alone.  25
 
Review

  With the work of James Stephens this brief review of the literature of the Irish renascence must close. The renascence itself, apart from the art produced under its influence, has had a compelling effect in reconstructing the life of Ireland. In its literature, it began in an attempt to mold life by means of an art that came out of the past, seeking refuge in a world of dream and legend and expressing itself in symbol, and in mystic vision. That this early expression threw Irish writers back upon their own tradition, released them from the bondage of England, and saved them from being merely provincial British writers cannot be doubted. It succeeded in awakening the race consciousness of a nation, and added a new and beautiful feeling to literature. The transition from an art remote from contemporary life to an art woven out of the texture of contemporary life has gradually been accomplished. Irish authors to-day are dealing less and less with folk-lore and legend, and more and more with the romance of the commonplace, because literature in Ireland to-day is expressing the social reorganization with which the foremost Irish thinkers are preoccupied. But the fundamental spirit and the philosophy of the renascence, although it has developed a new form of expression, has not changed. The literature being produced in Ireland to-day is as greatly and as consciously concerned with the awakening of the racial spirit and with the development of ideals in the light of which Ireland is to progress as it ever has been. And its fundamental value lies in the fact that it has given self-expression to the soul of a race.
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  BIBLIOGRAPHY.—On the literature of the Irish renascence see: ‘Ireland’s Literary Renascence,’ by Ernest A. Boyd, John Lane, 1916; ‘The Celtic Dawn,’ by Lloyd R. Morris, Macmillan, 1917; ‘Irish Plays and Playwrights,’ by Cornelius Weygandt, Houghton-Mifflin, 1913; ‘Literature in Ireland,’ by Thos. MacDonagh, Devin-Adair Co., 1916. For a study of economic and social conditions and the work of the renascence see: ‘Contemporary Ireland,’ by L. Paul-Dubois, Maunsel, Dublin, and ‘The Celtic Dawn.’ Monographs and criticisms of particular authors are plentiful, notably the ‘Irishmen of To-day’ series, published by Dodd, Mead and Co. And the work of the authors dealt with herein is, of course, invaluable.  27
 
 
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