This brief chapter outlines the predominant stereotype of post-Independent Irish culture as stagnated and insular, and then asks why this might be the case given the highly impressive range of Irish writers wielding manuscripts at the time, including James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Frank O’Connor, George Bernard Shaw, and W. B. Yeats. It proceeds to provide the rationale for the rest of the book’s structure, indicating that its chosen poems will be read as constellations in which aesthetic forms and historical contradictions awaken to one another.
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