The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats, Volume IX: Early Articles and Reviews is part of a fourteen-volume series under the general editorship of eminent Yeats scholars Richard J. Finneran and George Mills Harper. This first complete edition includes virtually all of the Nobel laureate's published work, in authoritative texts with extensive explanatory notes.
Coedited by John P. Frayne and Madeleine Marchaterre, Early Articles and Reviews assembles the earliest examples of Yeats's critical prose, from 1886 to the end of the century -- articles and reviews that were not collected into book form by the poet himself. Gathered together now, they show the earliest development of Yeats's ideas on poetry, the role of literature, Irish literature, the formation of an Irish national theater, and the occult, as well as Yeats's interaction with his contemporary writers. As seen here, Yeats's vigorous activity as magazine critic and propagandist for the Irish literary cause belies the popular picture created by his poetry of the "Celtic Twilight" period, that of an idealistic dreamer in flight from the harsh realities of the practical world.
This new volume adds four years' worth of Yeats's writings not included in a previous (1970) edition of his early articles and reviews. It also greatly expands the background notes and textual notes, bringing this compilation up to date with the busy world of Yeats scholarship over the last three decades. Early Articles and Reviews is an essential sourcebook illuminating Yeat's reading, his influences, and his literary opinions about other poets and writers.
A poor student who never went to university, only to painting school, William Butler Yeats professed a scorn for scholarship. Nonetheless, he became an active critic. Financial need motivated much of his journalism, but Yeats also served a higher calling. As a young man, he was split between two pursuits: the occult and Irish nationalism. Although he was too discrete to write about the former directly, it found an outlet in his taste for Irish folklore, which in turn suited his nationalism. Many of the articles collected in the volume early works are part of Yeats's efforts to set standards for a national literature, to defend it from"the Shamrock and the Pepperpot" of cliche. His earliest reviews are breezy, full of"Oh!" and"Ah!" and opinions belonging more to a fan than to a critic. Suddenly eloquent when free to tell his own shaggy dog stories about ancient queens and Fairies--once for a journal titled Lucifer--Yeats blossoms as a critic in the 1890s, as his stake in politics sharpens his rhetorical sense. This is an essential volume for the scholar but might bore the enthusiast; most of the books Yeats reviewed were very similar, and he seems to have written his pieces carelessly. The editors' excellent, meaty notes, which often rival Yeats's articles in length, contain numerous corrections of Yeats's quotations. Yeats enjoyed the superiority inherent in being a critic, and the rashness of this youthful prose is in many ways more revealing than the poet's careful"Autobiographies," which he penned much later in life.