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El Papel de Irlanda en la Conservación de la Cultura Europea

A título personal agradezco a Irlanda su aporte a la cultura tras los escritores que ha ofrecido a la tradición literaria de Occidente: Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Shaw, Beckett y Heaney.

Luego del festejo de San Patricio ayer en Estados Unidos, Thomas Cahill publicó un artículo en el New York Times sobre el papel de Irlanda en la conservación de la cultura libresca en Europa a partir del siglo sexto de la era cristiana.

It is hard to overstate the momentousness of that collapse. By the early sixth century, Western Europe had become largely illiterate, its teachers dead, its students on the run, its libraries turned into kindling. Ireland, however, had just settled down, thanks to a tough old bird named Patrick, a Roman citizen raised in the province of Britain who had been grabbed by Irish slavers when he was a teenager. It was after his escape that Patrick resolved to seek priestly ordination and return to Ireland to preach the Gospel.

The glories of Christianity — particularly its books — fascinated the Irish. They came to love the Roman alphabet that Patrick and his successors taught them, as well the precious illuminated manuscripts that he presented to them. There was indeed nothing in their intellectual heritage to block their receptivity to the Christian faith.

There was also nothing in their heritage to draw them to master the intricacies of the Greco-Roman tradition. This turned out to be a stroke of luck, for the ancient Irish never embraced classical cynicism or the gloomy Greco-Roman sense of fatedness.

Instead, they remained in many ways remarkably unjaded, full of wonder at the unexpectedness of human life. “Well, the heart’s a wonder,” says Pegeen Mike in John Millington Synge’s comedy “The Playboy of the Western World.” It was a sentiment first articulated by Patrick’s converts, who put down their weapons and took up their pens. They copied out the great Greco-Roman books, many of which they didn’t really understand, thus saving in its purest form most of the classical library.

Creo que la fascinación de la Irlanda del bajo medievo queda plasmada ejemplarmente en el Libro de Kells.

Enlace: Turning Green With Literacy (NYTimes)