"Stylistic Arrangements": A Study of William Butler Yeat's A Vision

Bucknell University Press
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No thorough comparison has been made of the systems of the two versions of A Vision and, until quite recently, almost no consideration has been given to the fiction and introductory essays. The purpose of this study is to trace the evolution of A Vision and to attempt a re-evaluation of it as a work of art.
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Bucknell University Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 1987
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Literary Criticism / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
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The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats, Volume XIII: A Vision is part of a fourteen-volume series under the general editorship of eminent Yeats scholar George Bornstein and formerly the late Richard J. Finneran and George Mills Harper. One of the strangest works of literary modernism, A Vision is Yeats's greatest occult work.

Edited by Yeats scholars Catherine E. Paul and Margaret Mills Harper, the volume presents the "system" of philosophy, psychology, history, and the life of the soul that Yeats and his wife George (née Hyde Lees) received and created by means of mediumistic experiments from 1917 through the early 1920s. Yeats obsessively revised the book, and the revised 1937 version is much more widely available than its predecessor. The original 1925 version of A Vision, poetic, unpolished, masked in fiction, and close to the excitement of the automatic writing that the Yeatses believed to be its supernatural origin, is presented here in a scholarly edition for the first time.

The text, minimally corrected to retain the sense of the original, is extensively annotated, with particular attention paid to the relationship between the published book and its complex genetic materials. Indispensable to an understanding of the poet's late work and entrancing on its own merit, A Vision aims to be, all at once, a work of theoretical history, an esoteric philosophy, an aesthetic symbology, a psychological schema, and a sacred book. It is as difficult as it is essential reading for any student of Yeats.
For more than two hundred years after William Shakespeare's death, no one doubted that he had written his plays. Since then, however, dozens of candidates have been proposed for the authorship of what is generally agreed to be the finest body of work by a writer in the English language. In this remarkable book, Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro explains when and why so many people began to question whether Shakespeare wrote his plays. Among the doubters have been such writers and thinkers as Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Mark Twain, and Helen Keller. It is a fascinating story, replete with forgeries, deception, false claimants, ciphers and codes, conspiracy theories—and a stunning failure to grasp the power of the imagination.

As Contested Will makes clear, much more than proper attribution of Shakespeare’s plays is at stake in this authorship controversy. Underlying the arguments over whether Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare’s plays are fundamental questions about literary genius, specifically about the relationship of life and art. Are the plays (and poems) of Shakespeare a sort of hidden autobiography? Do Hamlet, Macbeth, and the other great plays somehow reveal who wrote them?

Shapiro is the first Shakespeare scholar to examine the authorship controversy and its history in this way, explaining what it means, why it matters, and how it has persisted despite abundant evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to him. This is a brilliant historical investigation that will delight anyone interested in Shakespeare and the literary imagination.
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