W. B. Yeats

Lauren Arrington

in British and Irish Literature

ISBN: 9780199846719
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
W. B. Yeats

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William Butler Yeats (b. 1865–d. 1939) was a poet, playwright, theater director, spiritualist, and politician, and the scholarship based on his life and work matches the diversity of his pursuits. He is regarded as belonging to the Romantic and the Modernist traditions, as a defender of democracy and as a champion of fascism. These are two of the most controversial topics debated by some of the most eminent scholars in the humanities. Yet where academics have seen conflict and contradiction, Yeats himself found unity, and this search for Unity of Being is the subject of much of his autobiographical and esoteric writing. As he was one of the foremost writers of the 20th century and a key figure in the Irish Revival, criticism of his work tends to be divided between international and national contexts, both of which are fruitful avenues of inquiry and represented equally here. Most readers come to Yeats through his poetry, but he saw his work for the stage as equal to if not greater than his poetic enterprise. On winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923, he surprised the committee with a speech, later published as “The Bounty of Sweden,” focused on his establishment of an Irish National Theatre. This bibliography aims to reflect the unity of Yeats’s vision while reflecting disagreements in critical appraisals. The topics outlined reflect the major areas of study at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and the sources have been selected on the basis of their usefulness for scholars at this level.

Article.  15148 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (British and Irish)

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