Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature
Edited By Paddy Lyons and Alison O'Malley-Younger
These shifts in culture have given Irish literature the opportunity to look afresh at its own past and, thereby, new perspectives have also opened for Irish Studies. The contributors to this volume explore these new openings; the essays examine writings from both now and the past in the new frames afforded by new times.
Claire Nally ‘Protestant Suspicions of Catholic Duplicity’: Religious and Racial Constructs in Le Fanu and Yeats 215
‘Protestant Suspicions of Catholic Duplicity’: Religious and Racial Constructs in Le Fanu and Yeats Claire Nally Visions and Vengeance: Anglo-Irish Ghosts In 1968, Austin Clarke identified a little known but direct connection between Le Fanu and Yeats: May I venture to suggest that Yeats owed the expression [‘A terrible beauty is born’, from ‘Easter, 1916’] to a poem by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, the Irish writer who is better known as novelist and short-story writer than as poet? It is used to describe a fearful spirit which was sometimes seen in Munster: Fionula the Cruel, the brightest, the worst, With a terrible beauty the vision accurst, Gold-filleted, sandalled, of times dead and gone … (Clarke, 1968: 1409) Indeed, Le Fanu and Yeats share more than the latter’s appropriation of a phrase or two. In ‘Green Tea’ (published as part of the collection In a Glass Darkly in 1872), Le Fanu presents the haunted and paranoid figure of Mr Jennings, a middle-aged man of ‘high church precision’ (Le Fanu, 1999: 6). Like Le Fanu, and in common with Yeats, Mr Jennings is of Anglican pedigree: indeed, he is an ordained minister in the church. Equally the Le Fanus had Huguenot lineage, and their ancestor, Charles de Cresserons, fought on the side of William of Orange in the Battle of the Boyne. The eighteenth-century Le Fanus were bourgeois, Protestant merchants and bankers, whilst Le Fanu’s maternal relations were linked to the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan (McCormack, 1997: 1). 216 Claire Nally Equally, Yeats...
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