Words Alone Yeats and his Inheritances

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-02-07
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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R. F. Foster's two-volume biography of Yeats was hailed in theNew York Review of Booksas "a triumph of scholarship, thought, and empathy such as one would hardly have thought possible in this age of disillusion." Now, Foster turns his focus to the largely unacknowledged influences that shaped the young W. B. Yeats. So dramatic and revolutionary was Yeats' impact on Irish literature that the writers and traditions that preceded him are often overlooked, just as his successors are often overshadowed by his achievement. InWords Alone, Foster explores the Irish literary traditions that preceded Yeats, including romantic "national tales" in post-Union Ireland and Scotland, the nationalist poetry and polemic of the Young Ireland movement, the occult and supernatural fictions of Sheridan LeFanu, the "peasant fictions" of William Carleton, and the fairy-lore and folktale collections Yeats absorbed. As well as placing these nineteenth-century literary movements in a rich contemporary context of politics, polemic, and social tension, Foster discusses recent critical and interpretive approaches to these phenomena. But the unifying theme throughout the book is the self-conscious use Yeats made of his literary predecessors during his own apprenticeship, particularly in the construction of his path-breaking early work.

Author Biography

R. F. Foster is Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Hertford College. His books include Modern Ireland 1600-1972, Luck and the Irish, and the prize-winning two-volume biography, W.B. Yeats: A Life (OUP 1998).

Table of Contents

National Tales and National Futures in Ireland and Scotland after the Union
The First Romantics: Young Irelands between Catholic Emancipation and the Famine
Lost in the Big House: Anglo-Irishry and the Uses of the Supernatural
Oisin Comes Home: Yeats as Inheritor
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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