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Celtic Twilight, The

The Celtic Twilight, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, Irish Fairy Tales

  • (i)A term which is applied, sometimes mildly disparagingly, to the literary and cultural resurgence otherwise referred to as the Irish Revival. Its suggestions of romantically mystical fusions of myth, legend, and superstition indicate that it is restricted in its appropriateness to the period 18891900; during these years, the literature of the Irish Revival was to a large extent dominated by such preoccupations in its elegiac and nostalgic involvement with the lost indigenous culture and history of Ireland. From around 1900 onward the Revival was characterized by increasingly provocative and naturalistic writing, notably in the developments of Irish drama at the Abbey Theatre.
  • (ii)The phrase originated with W. B. Yeats's collection of folk-tales and personal reminiscences entitled The Celtic Twilight and is evocative of the melancholy Gaelic Pre-Raphaelitism of much of his earlier verse. First published in 1893, the book contained material derived from Yeats's recollections of his early years in Sligo, when he had listened to the stories told by some of the area's inhabitants; a second edition appeared in 1902, featuring additional tales and legends from the Galway region. Yeats had previously produced two collections in a similar vein, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888) and Irish Fairy Tales (1892); these were substantially drawn from existing literary sources and The Celtic Twilight is of greater interest than either for its autobiographical element.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Henry Carey Biography to Chekhov Biography