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By Liam Ó Muirthile

Word: This paintings is within the Irish language purely - there is not any English language translation within the book.

This literary novel set in Paris explores in round, cyclical model sessions in time - the start of the twentieth century and the start of the twenty first - and tales interwoven. This booklet received a 2013 Oireachtas prize.

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These are, no doubt, significant arguments (their most notable merit being their originality). But I don’t have any obligation to answer them. I’m not erecting any system here–– God preserve us from systems! I’m simply stating a fact. I’m writing history, not criticism. Like it or not, this is the way things are. To return to the point, then, let’s try to show that this fertile union of the grotesque with the sublime has been the origin of the modern spirit–– so complex, so varied in form, so infinite in its creations (in striking contrast to the uniform simplicity of the ancient spirit); this must be our point of departure, if we are to describe the real and radical difference between the two systems.

Aristophanes stands incomparably higher than Plautus; Aristophanes has a place among the ancient poets, as Diogenes has among the ancient philosophers. It’s obvious why Terence isn’t mentioned in this passage alongside the two popular comic writers of the ancient world. Terence is the drawing-room poet of the Scipios,* an elegant and charming engraver whose hand obliterates the uncouth old comedy of the ancient Romans [Hugo’s note]. 2 This great drama of human damnation dominates the whole medieval imagination.

We mustn’t eye the period too scornfully; it was the seedbed of everything that has come to fruition since, and (allow me to use a banal but expressive image) its second-rate writers made it a dunghill to fertilize the future harvest. The Middle Ages were grown from the Byzantine empire. So there we have a new religion and a new society; on that dual basis, inevitably a new kind of poetry would develop. In ancient times–– if I may draw attention to something that the reader will already have deduced from the preceding pages–– in ancient times, the Muse had been purely epic, and, in keeping with the old polytheism and the old philosophy, she had seen nature only from one side; when she imitated the world around her, she firmly rejected from art anything that didn’t correspond to a particular type of beauty.

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