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Celtic literature


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Irish Revival

Matthew Arnold (1822—1888) poet, writer, and inspector of schools

W. B. Yeats (1865—1939) poet

Ernest Renan (1823—1892) French historian, theologian, and philosopher

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There was little sense of common elements or purpose in literature in the Celtic languages (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton) before the series of ‘Celtic Revivals’ which began in the 18th cent. and culminated with M. Arnold and Yeats in the late 19th cent. However, common themes can be seen, such as in the writings brought together by Kenneth Jackson in A Celtic Miscellany (1951) and in the Arthurian world which had expanded to a pan‐European tradition. The postulation of a distinctively ‘Celtic Note’ was the not ungenerous but still stereotyping work of Arnold in On The Study of Celtic Literature (1866), following Ernest Renan, and it was widely challenged in the 20th cent. Celtic folklore and fairy stories were collected by John Rhŷs in Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx (1901, repr. 1980) and by William Jenkyn Thomas in The Welsh Fairy Book (1907). See also irish revival.

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