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"the Artist Who Stakes His Being is from Nowhere": Beckett and Thomas Macgreevy on the Art of Jack B. Yeats

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image of Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui

Thomas MacGreevy felt that Jack B. Yeats's art was a repository of Irish national consciousness, and that it could act as a basis for the articulation of a uniquely Irish post-colonial identity. Samuel Beckett was strongly opposed to such a view, describing Yeats as an "artist from nowhere". I explain this divergence of views in terms of Beckett and MacGreevy's different cultural positioning in the Irish Free State, and suggest that Beckett's views are indicative of the way in which he himself wished to be read vis-à-vis the cultural narratives of identity being espoused in 'Irish Ireland'.


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