The tripartite life of Whitley Stokes (1830–1909)

Elizabeth Boyle & Paul Russell, editors

Hardback €49.50
Catalogue Price: €55.00
ISBN: 978-1-84682-278-0
September 2011. 268pp.

'This handsome volume is a fitting homage to Whitley Stokes. The variety of angles from which his figure is studied does justice to a long, right and eventful life devoted to the study of Indian law and Celtic philology. The resultant contributions offer a fundamental insight into the vast output of Macc Dá Cherdda, “the man of the two crafts” (as Stokes once signed himself), while also revealing much of the complex personal life of a very private man. The editors are to be warmly congratulated for drawing attention to one of Ireland’s most important cultural personalities with this worthy tribute', Alexandre Guilarte, Celtica (2013).

‘[With] a nuanced and well-written introduction … this timely publication should shine new light on a scholar who has not always received the attention he deserves … Stokes is a far more interesting subject than the arid scholar imagined by previous commentators … Nigel Chancellor contributes an excellent and wide-ranging chapter on Stokes and Irish identity in British India … chapters by Bernhard Maier and Paul Russell provide very useful summaries of the development of modern philology and etymology … Alderik H. Blom’s study of Stoke’s very specialized study of continental Celtic is a model of accessibility and clarity. A lively and good-humoured style makes Nollaig Ó Muraíle’s chapter on Stokes and Modern Irish a joy to read and his occasional levity grounds considerable erudition in accessible terms … Jahanara Kabir provides an important overview and analysis of the intersections between philology and empire … The publication of this beautifully designed volume should draw attention to Whitley Stokes as a giant of nineteenth century scholarship and as a pivotal figure in the scholarship that prepared the way for the literary and cultural revival of the late nineteenth century. The various chapters are enriched by the primary and secondary sources they draw on and are given authority by the wide ranging expertise of the contributors. A comprehensive bibliography and a very useful index of unpublished manuscripts and archival sources will prove and invaluable resource for future scholars', Róisín Ní Ghairbhí, Irish Literary Supplement (Spring 2013).

‘The authors of The tripartite life of Whitley Stokes amply draw from the correspondence between Stokes and his contemporaries which is found in various archives. It truly brings to life the man and his times … he was one of the giants who turned Celtic Studies into a modern discipline. How he accomplished this is revealed in a fascinating and entertaining manner … I greatly enjoyed reading The tripartite life of Whitley Stokes. In fact, it has been years since a work on Celtic Studies has captivated me like this. I especially recommend students reading this: it gives an intriguing depiction of the emergence of the discipline and demonstrates yet again that we stand on the shoulders of giants like Whitley Stokes', Bart Jaski, Kelten (February 2012; translated from the original Dutch).

‘… this is an interesting book and [the essays] all make clear that Stokes was one of the most remarkable and gifted intellectuals that Ireland ever produced and a major figure in 19th-century scholarship throughout the English-speaking world', Books Ireland (November 2011).

‘The book’s title is a clever play on one of Stokes’s best-known publications (The Tripartite Life of Patrick, London 1887), and is intended to reflect the extraordinary breadth and diversity of his public service and private interests, which ranged from Ireland and England to India, and across the entire European continent … Elizabeth Boyle’s chapter offers an excellent sketch of Whitley’s London years, prior to his departure for India in 1862. She has unearthed a wealth of correspondence that casts very interesting light on his circle … along with Whitley Stokes (1830–1909): the lost Celtic notebooks rediscovered (2011), the book makes it possible for the current generation of Celtic scholars, in particular, to appreciate fully the immensity of Whitley Stokes’s contribution to the field', Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies (Winter 2012).

‘From The Tripartite Life, Whitley Stokes emerges as a complex personality, as a dedicated scholar steeped in the new comparative philology, patient and exacting in the preparation of his own philological work but impatient with what he perceived to be shortcomings in other scholars’ work. It successfully contextualizes Stokes and his contribution to Celtic Philology, the excitement and stir caused by comparative philology, and at the same time remains mindful of Stokes’s darker sides and the limitations of his own work … an important contribution to the historiography of linguists and of Celtic Philology … analysing and contextualising from different archival and critical perspectives the life and the achievement of a founding father of medieval Celtic textual philology', Erich Poppe, Language and History (May 2012).