Music and the Irish Literary Imagination

Hardcover | November 13, 2008

byHarry White

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Harry White examines the influence of music in the development of the Irish literary imagination from 1800 to the present day. He identifies music as a preoccupation which originated in the poetry of Thomas Moore early in the nineteenth century. He argues that this preoccupation decisivelyinfluenced Moore's attempt to translate the 'meaning' of Irish music into verse, and that it also informed Moore's considerable impact on the development of European musical romanticism, as in the music of Berlioz and Schumann. White then examines how this preoccupation was later recovered by W.B.Yeats, whose poetry is imbued with music as a rival presence to language. In its readings of Yeats, Synge, Shaw and Joyce, the book argues that this striking musical awareness had a profound influence on the Irish literary imagination, to the extent that poetry, fiction and drama could function ascorrelatives of musical genres. Although Yeats insisted on the synonymous condition of speech and song in his poetry, Synge, Shaw and Joyce explicitly identified opera in particular as a generic prototype for their own work. Synge's formal musical training and early inclinations as a composer,Shaw's perception of himself as the natural successor to Wagner, and Joyce's no less striking absorption of a host of musical techniques in his fiction are advanced in this study as formative (rather than incidental) elements in the development of modern Irish writing. Music and the Irish Literary Imagination also considers Beckett's emancipation from the oppressive condition of words in general (and Joyce in particular) through the agency of music, and argues that the strong presence of Mendelssohn, Chopin and Janacek in the works of Brian Friel iscorrespondingly essential to Friel's dramatisation of Irish experience in the aftermath of Beckett. The book closes with a reading of Seamus Heaney, in which the poet's own preoccupation with the currency of established literary forms is enlisted to illuminate Heaney's abiding sense of poetry asmusic.

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Harry White examines the influence of music in the development of the Irish literary imagination from 1800 to the present day. He identifies music as a preoccupation which originated in the poetry of Thomas Moore early in the nineteenth century. He argues that this preoccupation decisivelyinfluenced Moore's attempt to translate the 'me...

Harry White is Professor of Music at University College Dublin. He has also held visiting professorships in Canada, Croatia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. He was inaugural President of the Society for Musicology in Ireland from 2003-2006. He was elected to the Royal Irish Academy in 2006, and in 2007 he was made a Fellow of the Roy...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.87 inPublished:November 13, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199547327

ISBN - 13:9780199547326

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Words for Music: In Search of the Irish Omphalos1. The Auditory Imagination of Thomas Moore2. W.B.Yeats and the Music of Poetry3. Why J.M. Synge Abandoned Music4. Opera and Drama: Bernard Shaw and 'The Brandy of the Damned'5. The 'Thought-Tormented Music' of James Joyce6. Words after Music: Samuel Beckett after Joyce7. Operas of the Irish Mind: Brian Friel and Music8. Words Alone: Seamus Heaney, Music, and the Jurisdiction of Literary FormsSelect Bibliography