Thursday, 29 June 2017

Chris Arthur on the National Essay, a dubious entity.


So I cross post, Sue me. I left this over at essay daily site Chris Arthur's views on the National Essay. Is it even a thing?

Hello Chris,
You’ve been away for a while so let me correct you on a few points. The N.I. troubles are generally reckoned to have lasted 30 years, from Burntollet ‘69 to Good Friday ‘98. Others say 300 years but we won’t go into that. In terms of nation and national identity people on the island of Ireland are beginning to accept that there are British Irish, Anglo-Irish, Plain Irish and New Irish. What you refer to as Ulster is not the 9 county entity of the Gael but the Wee Six which the 26 regard as an ingrown toenail of a place and dread the idea of unity. The Irish essayists that you referred to were almost all Anglo-Irish. You left out Hubert Butler and Elizabeth Bowen both Anglo, the latter even spied for England during the Hitler war.

I write this in the interests of precision which is a feature of the essay form. It is combined with concision and, as a counterweight to incipient punctiliousness, creative rambling. As a Plain Irishman I freely admit that the English are pre-eminent in the field of essay writing. Amongst the Anglos that you mentioned it is Richard Steele that most has the Irish tint or taint of not coming to a point, of creating an emotional wash. Yeats valued that ‘stern colour and delicate line, that are our secret discipline’. Paudeen does not go in for that. It’s all allusiveness and whatever you’re saying say nothing when you’re talking about you know what.’

Another thing before I go, he said a half hour before leaving, give up that dismal ‘suspect’ and ‘suspicion’. It’s a hedging locution usually followed by waffle. Offer a ‘theory of interest’ by all means.

Best Wishes,
Michael.
P.S. Keep her goin’, don’t stall the digger.

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