Standish O'Grady AE and Yeats
Standish O?Grady was a major figure of the Irish Literary Revival whose work has received scant attention. The new assessment situates his literary, historical and political writing in its European intellectual context and considers the far-reaching implications of his work for intellectual activity in contemporary Ireland. McAteer argues that attempts to read him as either unionist or nationalist overlook the essentially contradictory nature of his writing. As a man of letters who believed that literature divorced from history was pernicious, and as an historian who believed that history divorced from imagination was ?no more history than a skeleton is a man?, O?Grady internalised yet looked beyond the divisions that continue to structure intellectual debate in Ireland today, whether in terms of history against literature, fact against theory or, most recently, revisionism against post-colonialism. By so doing, McAteer claims he provided the framework for a new form of politics that found its expression in the ideology of co-operation, developed by George Russell, an ideology that attempted to transcend the nationalist?unionist divide at the start of this century. In addition, O?Grady?s work influenced the manner in which W.B. Yeats understood history in his early work, particularly ?The Wanderings of Oisin?. Far from being the relatively minor figure he has come to be seen as, O?Grady created a body of literature that is directly relevant to any contemporary understanding of modernity, and that suggests a way of examining long-standing divisions in Ireland without contributing to their perpetuation.
Publication Date: 1/1/2002