Yeats, Philosophy, and the Occult

Edited by Matthew Gibson and Neil Mann

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ISBN: 9781942954255

Publication: December 19, 2016

Series: Clemson University Press

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Yeats, Philosophy, and the Occult is a collection of essays examining the thought of the Irish poet W. B. Yeats and particularly his philosophical reading and explorations of older systems of thought, where philosophy, mysticism, and the supernatural blend. It opens with a broad survey of the current state of Yeats scholarship, which also includes an examination of Yeats’s poetic practice through a manuscript of the original core of a poem that became a work of philosophical thought and occult lore, “The Phases of the Moon.” The following essay examines an area where spiritualism, eugenic theory, and criminology cross paths in the writings of Cesare Lombroso, and Yeats’s response to his work. The third paper considers Yeats’s debts to the East, especially Buddhist and Hindu thought, while the fourth looks at his ideas about the dream-state, the nature of reality, and contact with the dead. The fifth essay explores Yeats’s understanding of the concept of the Great Year from classical astronomy and philosophy, and its role in the system of his work A Vision, and the sixth paper studies that work’s theory of “contemporaneous periods” affecting each other across history in the light of Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West. The seventh essay evaluates Yeats’s reading of Berkeley and his critics’ appreciation (or lack of it) of how he responds to Berkeley’s idealism. The book as a whole explores how Yeats’s mind and thought relate to his poetry, drama, and prose, and how his reading informs all of them.

Matthew Gibson is Associate Lecturer in Translation for the University of Hull. He is the author of 'Yeats, Coleridge and the Romantic Sage' (Macmillan, 2000) and 'Dracula and the Eastern Question: British and French Vampire Narratives of the Nineteenth Century Near East' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). He is presently completing a new monograph for the University of Wales Press, called 'Nineteenth Century European Gothic: Vampires, Doubles and the French Revolution'.

Neil Mann works as an editor, translator, and teacher, and as an independent scholar, specializing in the works of W. B. Yeats, particularly his esoteric interests and A Vision. He is one of the readers who is simultaneously frustrated and fascinated by A Vision and the system that W. B. Yeats and his wife, George, elaborated through years of occult experiment and personal research. In 2002, he created the website as a resource for those seeking to understand this work better, and this book is the result of some forty years of engagement with A Vision, Yeats's work as a whole, and the background of nineteenth-century spirituality.

List of Figures and Table
List of Abbreviations
List of Contributors

1. “Something Intended, Complete”: Major Work on Yeats Past, Present, and Yet to Come - Wayne K. Chapman
2. Ghost, Medium, Criminal, Genius: Lombrosian Types in Yeats’s Art and Philosophy - Katherine Ebury
3. “Born Anew”: W. B. Yeats’s “Eastern” Turn in the 1930s - Charles I. Armstrong
4. W. B. Yeats, Dream, Vision, and the Dead - Neil Mann
5. Yeats, the Great Year, and Pierre Duhem - Matthew Gibson
6. The Morphological Interaction of the Four Faculties in the Historical System of W. B. Yeats’s A Vision - Graham A. Dampier
7. Yeats and Abstraction: From Berkeley to Zen - Colin McDowell
I. Annotations in the Writings of Walter Savage Landor in the Yeatses’ Library
II. Yeats’s Notes on Leo Frobenius’s The Voice of Africa (1913)


Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

237 Pages

ISBN: 9781942954255

Publication: December 19, 2016

Series: Clemson University Press

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