This book focuses on W. B. Yeats's critical writings, an aspect of his oeuvre which has been given limited treatment so far. It traces his critical work from his earliest articles, through to his occult treatises, and all the way to his last pamphlets, in which he sought to delineate the idea of a literary culture: a community of people willing to credit poetry with the central role in imagining and organising social praxis throughout society. The chapters of this study investigate the contexts in which Yeats's thought developed, his many disputes over the shape of Irish cultural politics, the future of poetry and the place literature occupies in the world. What transpires is an image of Yeats who is strung between the impulses of faith in the existence of a supernatural order and ironic scepticism as to the possibility of ever capturing that order in language.
This study is distinguished by its grounding of Yeats's critical agenda in a broader context through textual analysis. In addition, it organises and systematises his conceptions of poetry and its social role through its approach to his criticism as a fully-fledged area of his artistic practice.
The monograph has been written within the framework of the project financed by The National Science Centre, Cracow, Poland, pursuant to the decision number DEC-2013/09/D/HS2/02782.
Introduction.- 1. Popular Audiences and Poetical Culture.- 2. 'Divine Essences' in an Earthly Language: Ideas of Good and Evil.- 3. Cutting the Irish Agate.- 4. Per Amica Silentia Lunae: An Intertwining of Paths.- 5. Dichotomies Multiplied: A Vision.- 6. The Modern World and Yeats's Discontents.- 7. Searching for Completion: 'On Modern Poetry' and 'A General Introduction for My Work'.- Da Capo al Fine: He the Great Gazebo Built(?).