Monday, August 10, 2009

Cuchulain as a Cowboy

The second lecture I attended last week at the Yeats Summer School was entitled Cuchulain the American by Meg Harper of Georgia State University. She discussed the connection between the myth of the "West" - Irish and American - in the early twentieth century and its influence on Yeats.

She pointed out that Yeats based his Cuchulain plays and poems on the book Myths and Folk-lore of Ireland, 1890 by Jeremiah Curtin who was an American folklorist who also specialised in native American folklore. Yeats was an avid reader of Zane Grey and she pointed out two characteristics which set Grey's stories apart from others of the western genre - the inclusion of strong female characters and the reliance on mythic settings. Both are also characteristics of Yeats' Cuchulain works.

Another very thought provoking lecture. Imagining Cuchulain as a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood type character seemed a little more plausible at the end than it did at the beginning.

1 comment:

Honor Duff said...

Cuchulain as a cowboy! That's a thought-provoking concept. Never knew Yeats was a Zane Grey fan. I wonder if Clint Eastwood reads Yeats? Thanks Michael for interesting links from the Summer School.