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Languages of the NightMinor Languages and the Literary Imagination in Twentieth-Century Ireland and Europe$
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Barry McCrea

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300185157

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300185157.001.0001

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Seán Ó Ríordáin’s Private Language

Seán Ó Ríordáin’s Private Language

Chapter:
(p.74) three Seán Ó Ríordáin’s Private Language
Source:
Languages of the Night
Author(s):

Barry McCrea

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300185157.003.0003

This chapter reevaluates the meaning of the work of Seán í Ríordáin, considered to be the first great modern poet in Irish. í Ríordáin did not consider himself to be fully a native speaker of Irish, and the chapter explores his decision to write in Irish as a poetic/aesthetic rather than political or patriotic impulse. Writing in a language in which he could never feel fully at home, the chapter argues, í Ríordáin found an intense way of exploring the failings inherent to language itself. His desire to be fully native in Irish, something impossible to achieve, corresponds to a modernist impossible, utopian longing for a pure language of art or of the soul. Thus, the chapter argues, one can understand writing in Irish by nonnative speakers not as a revivalist or nationalistic undertaking but as a form of literary expressionism, a search for a language of art.

Keywords:   Seán í Ríordáin, Pasolini, Gaeltacht, Irish language poetry, Native speaker, Expressionism

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