A new book by Exeter alumnus Dr Francis Hutton-Williams (2011, English) examines Thomas MacGreevy’s central role in the development of Irish culture from the arrival of national independence in 1922 to the moment of programmatic modernisation during the early 1960s.
In Thomas MacGreevy and the Rise of the Irish Avant-Garde (Cork University Pres, 2019) Dr Hutton-Williams makes a strong case for the reassessment of Thomas MacGreevy’s achievement across the full range of his activities as poet, First World War combatant, Irish nationalist, art critic and curator, sponsor of abstract art and Director of the National Gallery and establishes MacGreevy’s social position among the individuals and groups that collaborated to produce, exhibit, consume and debate some of Ireland’s most radical works to date. In so doing, Dr Hutton-Williams expands our understanding of a period that has often been regarded by cultural historians as one of depressing failure.
Close and extended readings of poems, paintings, notebooks and draft materials – and compelling discussions of relevant social, literary and art-historical contexts – provide new insight into the creative work that challenged and reshaped Irish culture and identity when an authoritarian state (Saorstát Éireann) was a force for censorship, national conservatism and cultural homogeneity.
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