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Title: Yeat's versions of literary history, 1896-1903
Author: Hawes, Ben
ISNI:       0000 0001 3546 5850
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 1998
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This study examines the critical prose written by William Butler Yeats in the period 1896-1903, and identifies the evolution within it of a mode of literary history. I concentrate on Ideas of Good and Evil, and on the selected edition Poems of Spenser. The introduction examines notions of golden ages and of original fracture, and the insertion of these tropes into a variety of literary histories. I consider some of the aims and problems of literary history as a genre, and the peculiar solutions offered by Yeats's approaches. I give particular attention to Yeats's alternation between two views of poetry: as evading time, and as forming the significant history of nations. The first chapter examines those essays in Ideas of Good and Evil written earliest. I consider the essays on Blake first, because Blake was the most significant influence on the writing of Yeats's idiosyncratic literary histories. I proceed to the essays on Shelley, on a new age of imaginative community, and on magic. The second chapter demonstrates how Yeats's ideals and ideas became modified in more practical considerations of audience, poetic rhythm and theatrical convention, and I identify the new kinds of literary history in the essays on Morris and Shakespeare, which are concerned with fracture, limitation and the loss of unmediated access to timeless imaginative resources. The third chapter briefly examines Yeats's very early imitations of Edmund Spenser, and then considers the uses of literary history in Yeats's edition of Spenser. The final chapter identifies Yeats's later returns to Spenser, and shows how the earlier modes of literary history governed subsequent adaptations. My conclusion summarises the advantages and limitations of Yeatsian literary history, and place my study into the context of Yeats's whole career, comparing these literary histories with A Vision
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Irish literature ; Poetry ; Cultural history