Modern Literature in Irish - Irish-language Modernism

Irish-language Modernism

Modernist literature was developed further by Máirtín Ó Cadhain, a schoolmaster from Connemara, who was the Irish-language littérateur engagé par excellence. He was active in the IRA, and spent The Emergency years (i.e. the years of the Second World War) at a detention camp in Curach Chill Dara (Curragh, County Kildare) together with other IRA men. At the camp he began his modernist masterpiece, the novel Cré na Cille ("Churchyard Clay"). Reminiscent of some Latin American novels (notably Redoble por Rancas by Manuel Scorza, or Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo), this novel is a chain of voices of the dead speaking from the churchyard, where they go on forever quarrelling about their bygone life in their village. The novel is a refutation of the romantic view of the Gaeltacht typical of the early years of the linguistic revival, and an excellent example of Ó Cadhain's dark and scarifying prose.

In addition to Cré na Cille, Máirtín Ó Cadhain wrote several collections of short stories (one 'short' story, "Fuíoll Fuine" in the collection An tSraith dhá Tógáil, can count as a novella). An important part of his writings is his journalism, essays, and pamphlets, found in such collections as Ó Cadhain i bhFeasta, Caiscín, and Caithfear Éisteacht.

Máirtín Ó Cadhain's prose is dense, powerful and (especially in his early work) difficult for the novice. His style changed and became simpler with time, in part reflecting the urban world in which he settled. Essentially he wrote in an enriched form of his native dialect, even in contexts where a less dialectal style would have been appropriate. He was not afraid of enriching his Irish with neologisms and loanwords from other dialects, including Scottish Gaelic.

Modernism and renewal are also represented by several writers not of Gaeltacht background, such as Eoghan Ó Tuairisc, Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin, and Breandán Ó Doibhlin (the last influenced by French literary theory). Ó Tuairisc, a stylistic innovator, wrote poetry and plays as well as two interesting novels on historical themes: L'Attaque, and Dé Luain. Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin sought to adapt Irish to the urban world: An Uain Bheo and Caoin Thú Féin offered a realistic depiction of a middle-class environment and its problems. Ó Doibhlin's Néal Maidine agus Tine Oíche is an example of introspective modernism.

Among the outstanding Irish-language poets of the first half of the 20th century were Seán Ó Ríordáin, Máirtín Ó Direáin and Máire Mhac an tSaoi. Ó Ríordáin was born in the Cork Gaeltacht: his poetry is conventional in form but intensely personal in content. He was also a brilliant prose writer, as evidenced by his published diaries. Ó Direáin, born on the Aran Islands, began as the poet of nostalgia and ended in austerity. Máire Mhac an tSaoi, who is also a scholar of note, has published several collections of lyric verse in which the classical and colloquial are effortlessly fused.

Read more about this topic:  Modern Literature In Irish

Famous quotes containing the word modernism:

    By Modernism I mean the positive rejection of the past and the blind belief in the process of change, in novelty for its own sake, in the idea that progress through time equates with cultural progress; in the cult of individuality, originality and self-expression.
    Dan Cruickshank (b. 1949)