Words Alone: Yeats and His Inheritances

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9780199592166: Words Alone: Yeats and His Inheritances

Roy Foster's two-volume biography of Yeats was hailed in the New York Review of Books as "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. In Words Alone, Roy 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. T.S. Eliot famously observed that Yeats was "part of the consciousness of an age which cannot be understood without him," and Foster shows the many ways that Yeats both shaped and was shaped by the age in which he lived, despite his attempts to construct his own literary pedigree and present himself as entirely original.
Returning to the rich seed-bed of nineteenth-century Irish writing, Words Alone draws out themes which had particular resonance for Yeats, offering a new interpretation of the influences surrounding the young poet as he began to "hammer his thoughts into a unity."

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About the Author:


Roy 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.

Review:


"Foster provides valuable political and historical contexts in which to understand Yeats and his age. Highly recommended." --Choice


"R. F. Foster has made us more strongly aware of Yeats's inheritances from that Victorian Ireland so brightly and distinctly evoked in Words Alone." --The New Republic


"It might fairly be argued that "Words Alone" is less a book about Yeats than a window opened onto a literary landscape that his own achievement partly eclipsed. But in Mr. Foster's hands the two subjects enrich each other...Behind [Yeats] stretched the line of writers that Mr. Foster restores to us. To understand that legacy is to see Yeats himself in a clearer light." --Wall Street Journal


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Foster, R. F., 1949-
Verlag: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2011 (2011)
ISBN 10: 0199592160 ISBN 13: 9780199592166
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Buchbeschreibung Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2011, 2011. , xix, 236pp., very good dust-jacket, very good black cloth, fresh copy ISBN 9780199592166. Artikel-Nr. 36001

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