Revolution and Evolution
Edited By John Strachan and Alison O'Malley-Younger
The book also examines change in the culture of the island of Ireland, from the development of the Irish historical novel in the nineteenth century, to ecology in contemporary Irish women’s poetry, to the present state of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Contemporary Irish authors examined include Roddy Doyle, Joseph O’Connor and Martin McDonagh.
Introduction ALISON O’MALLEY-YOUNGER AND JOHN STRACHAN 1
Introduction Alison O’Malley-Younger and John Strachan In Sato’s house, Curved like the new moon, moon luminous, It lay five hundred years. Yet if no change appears No moon; only an aching heart Conceives a changeless work of art. … Juno’s peacock screamed. — W. B. Yeats, ‘My Table’ (1923) According to David Fitzpatrick, ‘if revolutions are what happen to wheels, then Ireland underwent a revolution between 1916 and 1922 [in which] social institutions were turned upside down, only to revert to full circle upon the establishment of the Irish Free State’ (Fitzpatrick, 1977: 232). For Fitzpatrick the revolutionary period, which encompassed the Easter Rising, the Civil War and the establishment of the Free State in 1921, was cyclical, with the forces of conservatism and stasis counteracting those of revolu- tion and rebellion. To his mind, Ireland had thus not ‘changed, changed utterly’ (Yeats, 2002: 56) as W. B. Yeats had once poetically argued, but had turned round upon itself. The brave new Celtic world envisaged by Yeats and his contemporaries had, in this account, been strangled almost at birth by the narrowly defined moral and cultural strictures of the Free State. The revolutionary change intuited by Yeats in his ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’ (1923) had come about and yet had been quelled by the emblematic Sato’s sword, symbol of continuity, fixity and changelessness. The wheel had come full circle. Irish culture had resisted the opportunity to evolve, choosing instead what Robert Welch describes as ‘a perfect look 2 Alison O’Malley-Younger...
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