I found the emphasis on the importance of language in tradition, and ultimately culture, in the “Cultural Nationalism” reading by Terence Brown to be fascinating. In just the first paragraph, the power of language is described to transcend its time and provide the basis of a cultural identity. This can be exemplified in the quote, “Language in such an understanding of national identity is what bears the gifts of the past into the present and supplies a living link with a racial spirituality.” Words have the power to generate a group’s culture through the production of their literature, folklore, etc. which follows each subsequent generation, thereby influencing newly created culture and forming the basis of a national identity.
The reading goes on to explain the link between the Irish Literary Revival movement as a cultural movement as well as a political movement. Trying to restore the Gaelic language, and thus a piece of Irish culture, could unify the population similarly to political struggles. This attempt to revitalize Irish culture through the Gaelic language in an increasingly English-dominated Ireland speaks to their desire to differentiate from other cultures. This process of doing so will undoubtedly become more evident to me in the future works that we will read since the movement is language based.
This importance of language in a culture got me thinking about the few pieces of Irish literature we have read in the course so far and their impact on the subsequent culture that followed. The novel Dracula, by Bram Stoker, helped create the basis for widespread knowledge of mainstream vampiric supernatural folklore superstitions. The legends of vampires existed before Stoker wrote his novel, and yet a century later, Dracula has become synonymous with vampire because of the novel’s impact on its culture.