The Celtic Literature of Defeat: An Extraordinary Assortment of Irregularities

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This book attempts to define a genre, called the literature of defeat, in a context made up of its various historical geneses, characteristic style, individual forms, sustaining symbols and motifs, prevailing themes, and relationship to the mainstream. Its existence seems dependent first of all upon the historical circumstance of a military defeat or civil violation of a culture, and the withdrawal of that culture into itself as a way of life, a set of attitudes, a manner of visualizing things. This study also maintains that the literature of defeat is the chief mode of the insular Celts, who never suffered their defeat and occupation by the English gracefully; but carried with them into their secret places their icons and signs and sacraments, all of which shaped their visual art and writings. This book is an account of the writings, past and present, in Wales and Ireland.


". . . a wide-ranging and lively reading of major twentieth-century Irish poetry, which he brilliantly places against a historical and thematic background provided by medieval Celtic works. . . . draws quite usefully upon modern theories of entropy to help explain how the dramatic confrontation between two conflicting bodies -- political, cultural, or thermal -- help to create the specific energy of literary creation. . . . this book is a major contribution to studies of Irish literary history." -- Noel Polk

"Moorman has written an important book, analyzing the `irregularities' of literature that point beyond the closed systems that are easy to teach and comfortable to read." -- Mildred Leake Day, editor of Quondam et Futurus

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