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Envisioning Ireland

W. B. Yeats’s Occult Nationalism

Series:

Claire Nally

Although W. B. Yeats is one of the most over-theorised authors in the Irish canon, little attempt has been made to situate his occult works in the political context of early twentieth-century Ireland. By evaluating the two versions of A Vision, published in 1925 and 1937, this book provides a methodology for understanding the political and cultural impulses that informed Yeats’s engagement with the otherworld. The author suggests that the Yeatsian occult operates very firmly within the political parameters of Irish nationalism, often as a critique of the new Free State, or as an alternative way of mythologising and inaugurating a new nation state. The occult, far from being free of all political considerations, registers the poet’s shifting allegiances, from the Celticism of the 1890s to his disenchantment with modern Ireland in the Free State.
Through close readings of Yeats’s manuscripts and his primary and critical works, including a close assessment of the frequently neglected dramatic texts, the author seeks to force a rethinking of the critical reception of the Yeatsian occult through contemporary theoretical developments in postcolonialism, subjectivity, national identity and textual instability.

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List of Abbreviations xi

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Abbreviations AV (A) Yeats, W. B., A Critical Edition of Yeats’s A Vision (1925), ed. George Mills Harper and Walter K. Hood (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1978). AV (B) Yeats, W. B., A Vision (1937: Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1981). Auto Yeats, W. B., Autobiographies, ed. William H. O’Donnell and Douglas N. Archibald (New York: Scribner, 2002). E & I Yeats, W. B., Essays and Introductions (London: Macmil- lan, 1961). Ex Yeats, W. B., Explorations (London: Macmillan, 1962). Mem Yeats, W. B., Memoirs, ed. Denis Donoghue (London: Macmillan, 1972). Myth Yeats, W. B., Mythologies (London: Macmillan, 1959). UP I Yeats, W. B., Uncollected Prose, ed. John P. Frayne and Colton Johnson (London: Macmillan, 1970). UP II Yeats, W. B., Uncollected Prose, ed. John P. Frayne and Colton Johnson (London: Macmillan, 1975). Vision Papers Yeats, W. B., Yeats’s Vision Papers Vol. 1 ed. Steve L. Adams, Barbara J. Frieling and Sandra L. Sprayberry (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992). Vol. 2 ed. Steve L. Adams, Barbara J. Frieling and Sandra L. Sprayberry (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992). Vol. 3 ed. Robert Anthony Martinich and Margaret Mills Harper (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992). xii Abbreviations Vol. 4 ed. George Mills Harper and Margaret Mills Harper (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2001). VP Yeats, W. B., The Variorum Edition of the Poems of W. B. Yeats, ed. Peter Allt and Russell K. Alspach (New York: Macmillan, 1957). VPl Yeats, W. B., Variorum Edition of the Plays of W. B. Yeats, ed. Russell K. Alspach (London: Macmillan, 1966).

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