‘I have the strongest possible dislike for Ireland. I dislike that awful national egotism, always going on about what it means to be Irish.’

I have previously blogged about Anthony Powell. I’m well aware that he had little time for Ireland and the Irish – not something especially hard to discern from a quote likethis

 

I have the strongest possible dislike for Ireland,’ declares Mr Powell. ‘I dislike that awful national egotism, always going on about what it means to be Irish. But this is very unEnglish of me, I know. Wyndham Lewis said that the Irish resemble the English in being sentimental about the Irish. You asked me earlier if I had any eccentricities. This is the sort of thing I am eccentric about.’

That’s from Duncan Fallowell’s interview with Powell from “20th Century Characters” (the source of yesterday’s Powell quote also)

And I must, a robust impatience with “always going on about what it means to be Irish” is something I share. As Irish as anyone, I do not feel any the less admiration for Powell as a writer (and not especially much less for Powell the man)

There’s endless blather in the Irish media about how much Ireland and Irishness has changed etc. etc., and yet this national narcissism is the constant. I can’t imagine anything more repulsive and boring than one of the various gabfests on Irishness on both sides of the Atlantic, and the self-congratulatory belief, a sure recipe for complacency, that merely Being Irish makes something of interest or merit.

So I am not in any way offended by Anthony Powell’s sentiment. This does not mean I don’t care deeply about Irish culture and history, and indeed can understand the the romantic view of Ireland held by Englishmen like Arnold Bax (which Powell cites Wyndham Lewis pointing out) and indeed do not find my individual fellow Irishmen and Irishwomen (and Irish children etc.) fascinating – but Irishness in the waffly abstract – bleh

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s