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Title: The Arnoldian element in Yeats's 'A Vision'
Author: Murphy, Jaron L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 4627 0938
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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In this study of the influence of Matthew Arnold on W.B. Yeats, I describe a tendency in the critical field to overlook the placement of Arnold at Phase 18, and the implications of his presence beside Yeats at Phase 17, in Yeats’s key philosophical treatise A Vision (1926, 1937). The central contribution of my thesis is to address this crucial blind spot but also the concomitant failure by critics to consider Arnold’s overall bearing on the ‘System’ itself. Chiefly through analysis of the gyres, two types of man, and lunar phases of the Great Wheel, I trace five main, interrelated aspects comprising ‘the Arnoldian element’ in A Vision: 1) Romanticism; 2) morbidity; 3) Celticism; 4) culture; and 5) the over-arching ideal of ancient Greek genius. My thesis that Arnold is paramount to Yeats’s poetical and political concerns in the treatise demonstrates how the Arnoldian element – including a covert extension of Yeats’s dialogue with Arnold in “The Celtic Element in Literature” (1897) – within its abstruse occult discourse partly but powerfully shapes: 1) the projection of Irish self-rule and unity, principally in the figure of the Daimonic Man of the ideal Phase 17 (Yeats) subversively juxtaposed with the fragmenting Emotional Man of Phase 18 (Arnold and Goethe), in a time of anarchy; and 2) the representation of a range of phasal examples (named and unnamed, encompassing both literature and sexual love). I argue that Yeats’s considerable indebtedness to Arnold 1) both spurs and troubles readings of Yeats as a poet of decolonization; 2) merits attention in the long-running ‘Orwellian’ debate over Yeats’s alleged fascism, coinciding with Yeats’s eugenics; 3) illuminates A Vision as an ‘anxiety of influence’ text in which Yeats ‘kills’ his critical fathers Arnold and J.B. Yeats; and 4) warrants Arnold’s routine inclusion among Yeats’s foremost influences like Nietzsche, Blake, Dante, and Shelley whose portrayals in A Vision are partly bound up, as I show, with Yeats’s engagement with Arnold.
Supervisor: O'Donoghue, Bernard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; Yeats ; Arnold ; A Vision