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Old 07-30-2016, 12:02 PM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Question regarding the Celtic revival and the belief in fairies.

Hi,
I know Yeats was a believer in fairies, as was A.C. Doyle, as was J.M. Barrie. My question is about whether Oscar Wilde, given his mother's involvement in Irish nationalism and the Celtic Revival movement was also a believer in fairies. I know he wrote fairy tales and told fairy tales to adult audiences. But I can't find any evidence that he believed in them.
I look forward to your feedback.
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Old 07-30-2016, 09:26 PM
UDS UDS is online now
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Wilde's beliefs were fairly fluid, and driven more by aesthetic appeal than by empirical evidence. So it's entirely possible that he believed in fairies, some of the time at any rate. But I don't know of any reliable testimony on the point.
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Old 07-30-2016, 09:30 PM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Wilde's beliefs were fairly fluid, and driven more by aesthetic appeal than by empirical evidence. So it's entirely possible that he believed in fairies, some of the time at any rate. But I don't know of any reliable testimony on the point.
Thanks USD. I appreciate that.
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Old 07-31-2016, 02:26 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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"Belief" in this case is much more nuanced than "on / off." Yeats was Irish, and probably grew up with a vague belief in some sort of supernatural entities inhabiting the landscape. That's very different from Doyle, who was a credulous loon, and from Barrie, who was the embodiment of sentimental Victorian twee. (Okay, that's a bit harsh, but still...)

Wilde's beliefs, if any, were probably similar to Yeats: they were near-contemporaries, educated urban Anglo-Irish with some connections to Irish Gaelic culture. I doubt if either one had a literal belief in fairies the way we would understand the phrase, but I think it's safe to say that they both accepted the Irish fairy traditions as genuine.
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Old 07-31-2016, 03:54 PM
Nava Nava is offline
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Be careful with the word "fairies", because there are quite big differences between The Wild Hunt, Cinderella's Godmother, the hypersexed girlyboys of a certain genre of fantasy, and tiny women with butterfly wings - yet all get called fey. Which ones are you talking about?

Last edited by Nava; 07-31-2016 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 07-31-2016, 03:59 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Dr Drake's explanation touches on something that I am struggling to articulate. For Irish people of my mother's generation and earlier, "belief" in fairies, witchcraft, piseogs, hungry grass and the like, is not a matter of fact but a matter of folklore, story-telling and tradition, and highly context-dependent.

In the modern world, where matters of truth and falsehood are more straightforward and clear cut, it can be hard to understand the earlier way of thinking where the importance of a story was not strongly dependent on whether it was factually true.

There is an old joke about the old Irish woman who, when asked by a researcher whether she believed in fairies, replied "indeed and I do not, sir. But they are there nonetheless." That joke, while not terribly funny, encapsulates some of what I am trying to describe here.

Having said all that, Wilde was an urban sophisticate and far less influenced than Yeats by rural tradition, so I would be surprised if he entertained any belief in fairies except when it suited him to do so.

And finally I must commend the restraint of previous commenters in discussing Wilde's belief in fairies.
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Old 07-31-2016, 04:10 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
Be careful with the word "fairies", because there are quite big differences between The Wild Hunt, Cinderella's Godmother, the hypersexed girlyboys of a certain genre of fantasy, and tiny women with butterfly wings - yet all get called fey. Which ones are you talking about?
The sídhe aren't really any of those - they are another race, somewhat like humans with supernatural powers, capricious and often malicious, that we must take care not to offend or intrude upon. They are certainly not girly or tiny or winged. The belief is that they were the earlier inhabitants of the country who were driven into living in hiding.

Such "beliefs" or superstitions persist in earnest to this day, even though most people who would absolutely refuse to cut down a hawthorn tree, to bring hawthorn wood inside the house or to destroy a fairy fort would vigorously deny that they "believe in fairies".
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Old 07-31-2016, 04:42 PM
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Having said all that, Wilde was an urban sophisticate and far less influenced than Yeats by rural tradition, so I would be surprised if he entertained any belief in fairies except when it suited him to do so.
But also his mother's son.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:27 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by hibernicus View Post
There is an old joke about the old Irish woman who, when asked by a researcher whether she believed in fairies, replied "indeed and I do not, sir. But they are there nonetheless." That joke, while not terribly funny, encapsulates some of what I am trying to describe here.
In Galego, eu non creo nas meigas, mais habellas hainas. My Astur great-grandmother passed it down to us as eu non creo nas meigas pero habellas hallas, and no joke: it's what she said (and we now say) when something happens that's just weird (how the hell did the bottle of olive oil end up in the fridge?). Not that far from references to "goblins in the machinery", which IIRC we get from Germanic lands. Ultimately it reflects an aknowledgement of the fact that there are some things it's better to just accept and deal with than try to analyze, explain and solve. And if that means putting a ring woven of thistle on your door, or leaving rings of mushrooms undisturbed, well, any outsiders who call it silly just get hit with "got anything against Tradition, you?"

Last edited by Nava; 08-01-2016 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 08-01-2016, 01:54 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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In Galego, eu non creo nas meigas, mais habellas hainas. My Astur great-grandmother passed it down to us as eu non creo nas meigas pero habellas hallas, and no joke: it's what she said (and we now say) when something happens that's just weird (how the hell did the bottle of olive oil end up in the fridge?). Not that far from references to "goblins in the machinery", which IIRC we get from Germanic lands. Ultimately it reflects an aknowledgement of the fact that there are some things it's better to just accept and deal with than try to analyze, explain and solve. And if that means putting a ring woven of thistle on your door, or leaving rings of mushrooms undisturbed, well, any outsiders who call it silly just get hit with "got anything against Tradition, you?"
Do Gaelic and Spanish have some qualities that easily lend themselves well to "doublespeak", ambiguity or being paradoxical when it suits the speaker?
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Old 08-01-2016, 02:03 AM
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Do Gaelic and Spanish have some qualities that easily lend themselves well to "doublespeak", ambiguity or being paradoxical when it suits the speaker?
All languages have such qualities.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:20 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
Do Gaelic and Spanish have some qualities that easily lend themselves well to "doublespeak", ambiguity or being paradoxical when it suits the speaker?
Galego, not Gaelic. Different languages. And what UDS said.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:43 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Nm

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 08-01-2016 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:44 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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So which is it, fey or twee?

Two good words. Let them (the words) duke it out.
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:06 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Galego, not Gaelic. Different languages. And what UDS said.
I was referring to Gaelic actually, not Galego (spoken in Galicia). But your post did trigger my interest in Galego. It certainly has Celtic roots. Thanks for that.

This also caught my attention. Has anyone read it?

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/bo...-are-1.2427047
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:58 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
I was referring to Gaelic actually, not Galego (spoken in Galicia). But your post did trigger my interest in Galego. It certainly has Celtic roots. Thanks for that.

This also caught my attention. Has anyone read it?

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/bo...-are-1.2427047
Celtic Roots - Trailer Galego

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEF0IhKILuk
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:07 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
I was referring to Gaelic actually, not Galego (spoken in Galicia). But your post did trigger my interest in Galego. It certainly has Celtic roots. Thanks for that.

This also caught my attention. Has anyone read it?

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/bo...-are-1.2427047
When you say Galego "certainly has Celtic roots," what do you mean? Spanish, French, and Portuguese have Celtic roots, too—they are all Romance languages with a Celtic substrate. (There are areas without a Celtic substrate, too, mostly in Spain.) Galicia is a bit more remote from the Mediterranean, so it's reasonable to posit that Romanization was later and more gradual, and we know of a few minor Celtic connections in the Middle Ages, but it strikes me that Galicia's claims to being more Celtic than the rest of Spain or Portugal are quite wildly exaggerated.
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Old 08-01-2016, 02:36 PM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
When you say Galego "certainly has Celtic roots," what do you mean? Spanish, French, and Portuguese have Celtic roots, too—they are all Romance languages with a Celtic substrate. (There are areas without a Celtic substrate, too, mostly in Spain.) Galicia is a bit more remote from the Mediterranean, so it's reasonable to posit that Romanization was later and more gradual, and we know of a few minor Celtic connections in the Middle Ages, but it strikes me that Galicia's claims to being more Celtic than the rest of Spain or Portugal are quite wildly exaggerated.
I was basing my statement on this
https://webcache.googleusercontent.c...&ct=clnk&gl=hk
Any Galicians out there who want to fact-check this?...
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!to...ic/Ow_Kep5RcJk
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Old 08-01-2016, 02:45 PM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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I was basing my statement on this
https://webcache.googleusercontent.c...&ct=clnk&gl=hk
Any Galicians out there who want to fact-check this?...
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!to...ic/Ow_Kep5RcJk

There is a lot of skepticism on that score but according to this site:

http://everything.explained.today/Mu..._and_Asturias/
"In the 6th century, a final small Celtic influx arrived from Britain; the Britons were granted their own diocese, Britonia, in northern Galicia. "
  #20  
Old 08-01-2016, 08:29 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Originally Posted by davidmich View Post
There is a lot of skepticism on that score but according to this site:

http://everything.explained.today/Mu..._and_Asturias/
"In the 6th century, a final small Celtic influx arrived from Britain; the Britons were granted their own diocese, Britonia, in northern Galicia. "
That's true, but can we see any influence at all from that barring a couple of place names?

(Edit: I'm deeply skeptical about the musical claims, as well—bagpipes are known all over Europe—but I'm not qualified to assess these claims.)

Last edited by Dr. Drake; 08-01-2016 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:22 AM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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That's true, but can we see any influence at all from that barring a couple of place names?

(Edit: I'm deeply skeptical about the musical claims, as well—bagpipes are known all over Europe—but I'm not qualified to assess these claims.)
https://books.google.com.sg/books?id...0celts&f=false

"It seems that not all Celtic speakers shared equally in the demonstration of what we now tend to call 'Celtic culture' as measured by archeology. And conversely, it is likely that not everyone who wore a La Tène-style brooch spoke Celtic. History is likely to have been less tidy than some modern museum labels and the neat maps of artefact distribution found in many modern studies. What is certainly clear is that the ancient 'Celts' were composed of competing and conflicting tribes; and most probably had little awareness of any pan-Celtic identity. Celtic identity is found more in the eye of the modern beholder than in the reality of ancient competing tribal politics and alliances.People living in central Europe may have shared a language that was related to that spoken in the Atlantic zone but there is good reason to think that this did not make them culturally the same. And it is highly unlikely that they ever described themselves as 'Celtic'."
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Old 08-02-2016, 01:40 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
That's true, but can we see any influence at all from that barring a couple of place names?

(Edit: I'm deeply skeptical about the musical claims, as well—bagpipes are known all over Europe—but I'm not qualified to assess these claims.)
Well, the thing there is that there is a big hole between that NW corner of the peninsula and the next bagpiping place. The rest of the peninsula doesn't use bagpipes, nor does the south of France.

I just googled íberos, celtas y celtíberos, wondering if the images there would have changed from what I was taught 30 years ago (so many things have...). And yes they have: now the Iberians are being pictured as pretty much only among the mediterranean coasts, the Celtiberians as a small area around Guadalajara (ok, sorry guys but as they are "the mixture of the other two", that doesn't make any sense) and the Celts as the immense majority of the Peninsula. See here. This one is more like what I was taught.

Last edited by Nava; 08-02-2016 at 01:42 AM.
  #23  
Old 08-02-2016, 08:53 PM
davidmich davidmich is offline
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
Well, the thing there is that there is a big hole between that NW corner of the peninsula and the next bagpiping place. The rest of the peninsula doesn't use bagpipes, nor does the south of France.

I just googled íberos, celtas y celtíberos, wondering if the images there would have changed from what I was taught 30 years ago (so many things have...). And yes they have: now the Iberians are being pictured as pretty much only among the mediterranean coasts, the Celtiberians as a small area around Guadalajara (ok, sorry guys but as they are "the mixture of the other two", that doesn't make any sense) and the Celts as the immense majority of the Peninsula. See here. This one is more like what I was taught.
Thanks Nava. Very helpful. Thank you all.
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