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Festschrift for Tadhg Foley

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Maureen O'Connor

This Festschrift for Professor Tadhg Foley of the National University of Ireland, Galway, who retired in 2009, gathers together international contributors in the fields of poetry, politics and academia to honour this great man’s life and work. Professor Foley has not only been central in the development of Irish Studies and Colonial/Postcolonial Studies in Ireland and in the United States, but he has also enjoyed a long career as convivial host in his thatched cottage in Salthill, Galway. He remains one of the most popular and beloved figures in Irish academia. Among the eminent scholars included in the volume are Terry Eagleton, Robert Young, Penny Boumelha, David Lloyd, Luke Gibbons, Joep Leerssen and Maud Ellmann. The book is further enriched by poets Bernard O’Donoghue, Louis de Paor, Rita Ann Higgins, Michael D. Higgins and Tom Duddy. This collection is a rare and distinctive gathering of true and resonant voices, offering a unique portrait of late twentieth-century Irish literary and academic culture and its interplay with the United States.

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Some Notes on Hutcheson Macauley Posnett (1855–1927) Joep Leerssen 111

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Some Notes on Hutcheson Macaulay Posnett (1855–1927) Joep Leerssen Tadhg Foley’s rich work on Ireland’s imperial connections, in that tangled interaction between the field of scientifically informed imperial policy- making, and the imperially informed emergence of the social sciences, has opened up a fascinating area of interest for which all his colleagues will be grateful – grateful in different ways, to the extent that they work in different specialisms. To Tadhg’s great record of highlighting exemplary figures in Irish intellectual and scientific history I want to add a modest contribution from my own specialism, that of Comparative Literature. The figure I want to present is that of Hutcheson Macaulay Posnett. He is in fact briefly men- tioned in Thomas Boylan and Tadhg’s own Political Economy and Colonial Ireland, where it is rightly stressed that Ireland’s problem of rent and land ownership informed Posnett’s interesting treatise on The Ricardian Theory of Rent of 1884.1 But Posnett’s main claim to fame is that he wrote the first handbook in English (or practically indeed in any language) on Compara- tive Literature. That, too was the book’s title; it appeared in 1886, in the International Scientific Series. Since then, handbooks in Comparative Literature habitually cite Posnett as one of the great early harbingers of the discipline – alongside other late-nineteenth-century figures such as the Frenchman Joseph Texte, the Swiss Louis-Paul Betz, the Dane Georg Brandes, the Italians Arturo Graf and Arturo Farinelli, and the German-Transylvanian Hugo Meltzl 1 Quoted in Thomas A. Boylan and Timothy...

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