The Anglo-Irish literary renaissance that flowered between Edmund Burke's last years and the generation of Yeats and Joyce had close ties to European Romanticism and was a critical force in the development of modernist literature in the origins of Protestant Ascendancy ideology in the alarm of the 1790's, McCormack traces its cultural significance through an examination of a number of central texts and concepts. Beginning with Burke's correspondence and Reflections, McCormack goes on to discuss Maria Edgeworth's fiction, the political vocabulary of T.D. Gregg and E.W. Gladstone, Celticism, the drama and poetry of Teats, and Joyce's oeuvre as a whole. A wider European context is provided by reference to Wordsworth, Chateaubriand, and an excursion through a critical period in Irish cultural history asking why it was that the late 19th century should have been a time of such prolific literary achievements and examining the part played by the Protestant Ascendancy on the one hand, and the force of tradition on the other.