‘Dante and Ireland’, or ‘Dante and Irish Writers’, is an extremely vast topic, and to cover it a book rather than an essay would be necessary. If the relationship between the poet and Ireland did not begin in the fourteenth century — when Dante himself may have had some knowledge of, and been inspired by, the Vision of Adamnán, the Vision of Tungdal, and the Tractatus de purgatorio Sancti Patricii — the story certainly had started by the eighteenth, when the Irish man of letters Henry Boyd was the first to produce a complete English translation of the Comedy, published in 1802. Even if one restricts the field to twentieth-century literature alone, which is my aim in the present piece, the list of authors who are influenced by Dante includes Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, and Heaney — that is to say, four of the major writers not only of Ireland, but of Europe and the entire West. To these should then be added other Irish poets of the first magnitude, such as Louis MacNeice, Ciaran Carson, Eiléan Ní Cuilleanáin, and Thomas Kinsella. I hope I will therefore be forgiven for treating this theme in a somewhat cursory manner, privileging the episodes I consider most relevant and the themes which I think form a coherent and intricate pattern of literary history, where every author is not only metamorphosing Dante but also rewriting his predecessor, or predecessors, who had rewritten Dante. Distinct from the English and American Dante of Pound and Eliot, an ‘Irish Dante’, whom Joyce was to call ‘ersed irredent’, slowly grows out of this pattern.
Keywords: Alighieri, Dante – Divina Commedia; Alighieri, Dante – Vita nuova; productive reception; Irish literature; Yeats, William B.; Joyce, James; Beckett, Samuel; Heany, Seamus
Title
Irish Dante
Subtitle
Yeats, Joyce, Beckett
Author(s)
Piero Boitani
Identifier
DOI Target
Description
‘Dante and Ireland’, or ‘Dante and Irish Writers’, is an extremely vast topic, and to cover it a book rather than an essay would be necessary. If the relationship between the poet and Ireland did not begin in the fourteenth century — when Dante himself may have had some knowledge of, and been inspired by, the Vision of Adamnán, the Vision of Tungdal, and the Tractatus de purgatorio Sancti Patricii — the story certainly had started by the eighteenth, when the Irish man of letters Henry Boyd was the first to produce a complete English translation of the Comedy, published in 1802. Even if one restricts the field to twentieth-century literature alone, which is my aim in the present piece, the list of authors who are influenced by Dante includes Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, and Heaney — that is to say, four of the major writers not only of Ireland, but of Europe and the entire West. To these should then be added other Irish poets of the first magnitude, such as Louis MacNeice, Ciaran Carson, Eiléan Ní Cuilleanáin, and Thomas Kinsella. I hope I will therefore be forgiven for treating this theme in a somewhat cursory manner, privileging the episodes I consider most relevant and the themes which I think form a coherent and intricate pattern of literary history, where every author is not only metamorphosing Dante but also rewriting his predecessor, or predecessors, who had rewritten Dante. Distinct from the English and American Dante of Pound and Eliot, an ‘Irish Dante’, whom Joyce was to call ‘ersed irredent’, slowly grows out of this pattern.
Is Part Of
Place
Vienna
Publisher
Turia + Kant
Date
2011
Subject
Alighieri, Dante – Divina Commedia
Alighieri, Dante – Vita nuova
productive reception
Irish literature
Yeats, William B.
Joyce, James
Beckett, Samuel
Heany, Seamus
Rights
© by the author(s)
This version is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Language
en-GB
short title
Irish Dante
page start
37
page end
59
Source
Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti, and Fabian Lampart, Cultural Inquiry, 2 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2011), pp. 37–59
Bibliographic Citation
Piero Boitani, ‘Irish Dante: Yeats, Joyce, Beckett ’, in Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti, and Fabian Lampart, Cultural Inquiry, 2 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2011), pp. 37–59 <https://doi.org/10.25620/ci-02_03>
Format
application/pdf

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Cite as: Piero Boitani, ‘Irish Dante: Yeats, Joyce, Beckett ’, in Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti, and Fabian Lampart, Cultural Inquiry, 2 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2011), pp. 37–59 <https://doi.org/10.25620/ci-02_03>

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