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The politics of enchantment

American literature and Irish culture, 1910–1955: the politics of enchantment discusses how and why American modernist writers turned to Ireland at various stages during their careers. By placing events such as the Celtic Revival and the Easter Rising at the centre of the discussion, it shows how Irishness became a cultural determinant in the work of American modernists. Each chapter deals with a different source of influence, considering the impact of family, the Celtic Revival, rural mythmaking, nationalist politics and the work of W. B. Yeats on American modernists’ writings. It is the first study to extend the analysis of Irish influence on American literature beyond racial, ethnic or national frameworks.

Through close readings, a sustained focus on individual writers, and in-depth archival research, American literature and Irish culture, 1910–1955 provides a balanced and structured approach to the study of the complexities of American modernist writers’ responses to Ireland. Offering new readings of familiar literary figures – including Fitzgerald, Moore, O’Neill, Steinbeck and Stevens – it makes for essential reading for students and academics working on twentieth-century American and Irish literature and culture, and transatlantic studies.


Nietzsche was a scandal, a revelation, an explosive intellectual force. Soon after he ceased to write, the German philosopher was hailed widely as a leading emissary of ‘the modern’, but his message of cultural transformation resonated nowhere more powerfully than in Ireland. Nietzsche and Irish modernism traces the circulation of the philosopher’s ideas in the work of Irish writers and, more broadly, the Irish public sphere during the early decades of the twentieth century. George Bernard Shaw styled himself an ‘English (or Irish) Nietzsche’, as he developed a ‘drama of ideas’ to advance his radical political philosophy. W.B. Yeats adopted an ethos of ‘proud hard gift giving joyousness’ from Nietzsche as he sought to establish a national theatre in Ireland. James Joyce playfully, and repeatedly, evoked the philosopher’s ideas in his fiction, as the novelist surveyed the cultural resources that might remake the conscience of his compatriots. Before long, Irish priests, politicians, and propagandists also summoned the name of the German philosopher as they addressed a tumultuous period of Home Rule agitation, world war, revolution, civil war, and state building. His thought would ultimately come to play a role in imagining a different future for both postcolonial Ireland and postwar Europe. Recounting this cultural history in meticulous detail, the study demonstrates how Nietzsche provided Irish culture with the potential for new, disruptive modes of thinking and writing, which spoke to both local political circumstances and the predicaments of modernity at large.

Irish literary history through Balzac, Sheridan Le Farm, Yeats and Bowen

It is a central thesis that nineteenth-century Ireland went through a series of traumatic processes of modernization, which have been denied and repressed in their aftermath. The mediated presence of Sheridan Le Fanu and Honore de Balzac in the work of W.B. Yeats brings to a head political questions of the utmost gravity, the most notable being Yeats's engagement with fascism. Le Fanu has been persistently aligned with a so-called Irish gothic tradition. The objective in this book is to observe the historical forces inscribed in Le Fanu's distinctive non-affiliation to this doubtful tradition. The book presents a French response to Charles Maturin's gothic work, Melmoth the Wanderer, which is followed by discussion of a triangular pattern linking Balzac, Le Fanu and Yeats. This is followed by an attempt to pay concentrate attention within the texts of Le Fanu's novels and tales, with only a due regard for the historical setting of Le Fanu's The House by the Churchyard. An admirer of Le Fanu's fiction, Elizabeth Bowen adopted some of the stock-in-trade of the ghost story to investigate altered experiences of reality under the blitz. A detailed examination of her The Heat of the Day serves to reopen questions of fixity of character, national identity and historical reflexivity. In this work, the empty seat maintained for the long dead Guy might be decoded as a suitably feeble attempt to repatriate Le Fanu's Guy Deverell from an English to an Irish 1950s setting.

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An image of such politics

More than eighty years after her death, the name of Eva Gore- Booth is still known. This book is the first dedicated biography of the extraordinary Irish woman, who rejected her aristocratic heritage choosing to live and work amongst the poorest classes in industrial Manchester. Her close bond with her sister, an iconic Irish nationalist, provides a new insight into Countess Markievicz's personal life. Living in an environment receptive to occult beliefs, Eva became preoccupied by spiritualism and believed she developed a psychic ability. Many historians and literary critics have credited Eva's interest in the occult to the influence of Yeats. Gore-Booth published volumes of poetry, philosophical prose and plays, becoming a respected and prolific author of her time and part of W.B. Yeats' literary circle. Her work on behalf of barmaids, circus acrobats, flower sellers and pit-brow lasses is traced in the book. During one impressive campaign Gore-Booth orchestrated the defeat of Winston Churchill. Her life story vividly traces her experiences of issues such as militant pacifism during the Great War, the case for the reprieve of Roger Casement's death sentence, sexual equality in the workplace and the struggle for Irish independence. The story of her revolutionary life shows a person devoted to the ideal of a free and independent Ireland and a woman with a deep sense of how class and gender equality can transform lives and legislation.

W. B. Yeats and William Blake in the 1890s
Jodie Marley

Yeats’s Blake criticism of the 1890s hinged on his knowledge of the esoteric and occult systems that he used as his framework for interpretation of the Romantic poet. This article examines The Works of William Blake: Poetic, Symbolic, and Critical (1893) and Yeats’s 1890s reviews of his contemporary Blake critics, as well as his relationship with the mystic poet and artist George William Russell (Æ), whom he repeatedly compared to Blake. Yeats’s emphasis on the importance of Boehme and Swedenborg in Blake’s system had a major influence on Blake’s critical legacy in the twentieth century, such as S. Foster Damon’s approach to Blake in William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols (1924) and Kathleen Raine’s Blake and Tradition (1969). Yeats’s engagement with Blake in the 1890s also contributed to the popular conception of Blake as a mystic and visionary artist which still continues.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
What rough beast?
Series: Irish Society

This book explores the issue of a collective representation of Ireland after the sudden death of the 'Celtic Tiger' and introduces the aesthetic idea that runs throughout. The focus is on the idea articulated by W. B. Yeats in his famous poem 'The Second Coming'. The book also explores the symbolic order and imaginative structure, the meanings and values associated with house and home, the haunted houses of Ireland's 'ghost estates' and the fiscal and moral foundations of the collective household. It examines the sophisticated financial instruments derived from mortgage-backed securities that were a lynchpin of global financialization and the epicentre of the crash, the question of the fiscal and moral foundations of the collective household of Europe. A story about fundamental values and principles of fairness and justice is discussed, in particular, the contemporary conflict that reiterates the ancient Irish mythic story of the Tain. The book suggests correspondences between Plato's Republic and the Irish republic in the deformations and devolution of democracy into tyranny. It traces a red thread from the predicament of the ancient Athenians to contemporary Ireland in terms of the need to govern pleonexia, appetites without limits. The political and economic policies and practices of Irish development, the designation of Ireland's 'tax free zones', are also discussed. Finally, the ideal type of person who has been emerging under the auspices of the neoliberal revolution is imagined.

W. J. McCormack

In Reveries over Childhood & Youth (1914) – the first volume of his autobiography – W. B. Yeats slyly informs us that he has read all of Balzac’s novels. Twenty years later he is writing an essay on Louis Lambert (1832) in which he relates certain elements in that tale and in Seraphita (1834–5) to George Berkeley’s idealist philosophy

in Dissolute characters
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Rebel by vocation
Niall Carson

of W.B. Yeats and James Joyce, and had struggled to survive in an indifferent Irish market under a frustrating state censorship. It also points to something of O’Connor’s own volatile character and oscillating moods. By 1947 he had finished his association with Ireland’s premier literary magazine The Bell (1940–54) and was still frustrated by what had been, on his part, an acrimonious split. O’Connor, along with Seán O’Faoláin and Peader O’Donnell, was part of the original editorial board of The 2 Rebel by vocation ­ agazine that had been formed with the

in Rebel by vocation
Tara Stubbs

contemporary critical circles, to dismiss Celticism as a fanciful, archaic construction: as Daniel G. Williams argues, nowadays ‘“Celticism” is either associated with an outmoded racial conception of identity, or is seen as an internalised form of colonial discourse established in the writings of Ernest Renan and Matthew Arnold’.4 But for some American modernist writers, the enchantment of Celticism – as conveyed and celebrated by the Revivalists – offered a certain promise despite, or even because of, its unreality. The efforts of W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, Douglas Hyde and

in American literature and Irish culture, 1910–55
W. J. McCormack

weeks of his life. Yeats died on 28 January 1939. Many, then as now, mark the occasion with sighs both of relief and of loss. 28 Notes 1 W. B. Yeats Autobiographies London: Macmillan, 1955 p. 199. See also Yeats's introduction to Representative Irish Tales

in Dissolute characters