What this blog is for and about

I also offer personally-tailored, individualized English conversation practice (including etiquette) and coaching in writing techniques. Finally, I edit texts such as magazines, business proposals, memorandums, emails so they are presented in English which does not embarrass you or your organization. For further details, please mail me at: language.etiquette@gmail.com

Remember: all pictures can be expanded to full page size by clicking on them.


17 March 2015

Irish Week: interesting thoughts about W.B. Yeats

Heard a thought-provoking talk last night in the Oval Hall (which is in fact square) of the Foreign Languages Library about W.B. Yeats, as part of the Irish Week festivities.
     Before the music started, Charles Ivan Armstrong, a Norwegian-resident Irish academic, discussed Yeats in a way which provoked thought about Scotland, and indeed Russia, since a good part of Yeats's life was political, not least in that he was a Senator in the post-independence Irish parliament for many years.
     Briefly: Yeats celebrated the many varieties of Irish culture, which he arguably had to do since he was a Protestant who spoke no Gaelic and was married to an Englishwoman yet wanted to be considered Irish, not least as much of his poetry depended on that image (Celtic Twilight and all that). But his girl-friend was a fiery Irish nationalist, Maud Gonne, and he wrote a poem semi-celebrating the Easter Rising in 1916. Where stood William Butler?
     The answer is that he changed as circumstances changed, which is all well and good, and indeed sensible, but it does raise the question of where you draw the line on the rainbow. Ireland had, and has, a broad range of cultures, but it is only part of a spectrum that includes England, Scotland and the wider world (cf Beckett in Paris and Joyce in Italy). So what is independence really about? Many say "culture", but if so how do you chop it up into segments internationally?
     To me, this applies to Scotland and the rest of the British Isles (and in a way to Russia and the Ukraine). Is independence in principle incompatible with multiculturalism? Or is independence a purely political or economic issue which should be subordinated to international multiculturalism? 
     Yeats did not want Irish culture to be reduced to "the shamrock, drink and jocularity", but that is exactly what I hear in the cultural side of the Scottish independence debate.

For more events, see www.irishweek.ru

No comments:

Post a Comment