“A more ample method”. Textual soundscapes and Irish liminality in Yeats’s Countess Kathleen (1892)

indexProf. Enrico Reggiani (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano)

paper, The Tenth International Conference of EFACIS, Beyond Ireland: Boundaries, Passages, Transitions, 3-6 June 2015, University of Palermo, Italy

In Irish literature in English, textual soundscapes can be considered one of the most important and fascinating manifestations of “the state of Ireland as a stepping stone, a land ‘betwixt and between’, which implies such concepts as identity and difference and conveys feelings of separation, marginality and (re)assimilation”.

Yeats experienced, practiced and elaborated on complementarity and liminality in this (textual, literary, cultural, etc.) domain as well, since his soudscapes – both those elaborated in the precious shrineyeats2015 nero of Ireland’s mythological traditions and those conceived in the sweeping flux of its tormented and passionate historical events – “constantly cross and re-cross boundaries between the material and the immaterial, the historical and the transhistorical, the national and transnational world”.

My paper will examine Yeats’s textual soundscapes and their exploitation as a lyrical and dramatic resource in the original 1892 version of his Countess Kathleen. Yeats’s play will be seen as a “moving” yeats2015 biancosong inspired by “a more ample method” (1892 Preface to CK, 8) – i.e., as a poem as song in a dramatic vehicle, complementarily based on the updated union between a more comprehensively rational (i.e. Arnoldian) design and its emotional (i.e. Moorean) counterpart, and characterized by personally innovated “national”, “Celtic” and “distinctive” features that, according to Yeats, were worthy of the same (political, ethnic and identitarian) respect as their nineteenth-century (Young Ireland) predecessors.

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