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Description - The Imagination of an Insurrection by William Irwin Thompson

We know from our literary histories that there was a movement called the Irish Literary Renaissance, and that Yeats was at its head. We know from our political histories that there is now a Republic of Ireland because of a nationalistic movement that, militarily, began with the insurrection of Easter Week, 1916. But what do these two movements have to do with one another?... Because I came to history with literary eyes, I could not help seeing history in terms and shapes of imaginative experience. Thus Movement, Myth, and Image came to be the way in which the nature of the insurrection appeared to me. This method of analyzing historical event as if it were a work of art is not altogether as inappropriate as it might seem when the historical event happens to be a revolution. The Irish revolutionaries lived as if they were in a work of art, and this inability to tell the difference between sober reality and the realm of imagination is perhaps one very important characteristic of a revolutionary. The tragedy of actuality comes from the fact that when, in a revolution, history is made momentarily into a work of art, human beings become the material that must be ordered, molded, or twisted into shape. (from the preface)

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780940262027
ISBN-10: 0940262029
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 140mm x mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Lindisfarne Books
Publisher: SteinerBooks, Inc
Publish Date: 1-Aug-2008
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - The Imagination of an Insurrection by William Irwin Thompson

US Kirkus Review » What role did Yeats, A. E. or Sean O'Casey play in the Irish uprising of Easter Week, 1916? None directly, but Professor Thompson (of M.I.T.), as the title indicates, seeks to pursue the more delicate and less easily fathomable connections between the work of these Irish artists and the historical Irish freedom movement. His answer is part literary criticism, part history, cultural exploration and social criticism. While all of it bears the mark of an aware and sensitive humanist, certain sections, notably the introductory material on the rise of the Irish literary renaissance and the expository chapters on the work of Yeats, A. E. (George Russell) and several of the minor poets turned rebels who died on the firing line during Easter Week, are better argued and more believable than Thompson's whole text. Where most social thinkers turn complex, as Thompson does, they are convincing. But in his close readings of poems, the professor relies upon radical rhetoric and idealistic assertions about history that fall far short of an answer to Yeats' cry: "Did that play of mine send out/Certain men the English shot?" (Kirkus Reviews)

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