An Irish clerisy of political economists?: Friendships and enmities amongst the mid-Victorian graduates of Trinity College, Dublin


Terry Eagleton, the Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature at Oxford University and irreverent commentator on all things post-modern, has written an astonishing book on that remarkable community of intellectuals that raised Trinity College, Dublin, and indeed the town of Dublin itself, to its cultural and scholastic apogee in the second half of the nineteenth century. The work is the final part of a trilogy of books by Eagleton on the main cultural currents of Irish history, the first two of which were Heathcliff and the Great Hunger (1995) and Crazy John and the Bishop (1998). The intellectuals he examines in the final part of this series include, amongst others, William Wilde (Oscar Wilde’s father), Jane Elgee (Lady Wilde), Charles Lever, William Edward Lecky and Samuel Ferguson, and, which will be of slightly more interest to the readers of the hermetic articles of staid economic journals, that curious melange of nineteenth-century Irish political economists, Isaac Butt, T.E. Cliffe Leslie, John Elliot Cairnes and John Kells Ingram. Eagleton is interested less in tracing the individual theoretical contributions of these scholars, and more with delineating their activities as a community or clerisy and, through this exercise, meditating on the role of the intellectual in society.



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