In "Celtic Twilight," W. B. Yeats recites several accounts of encounters with the faerie folk and with the people of Ireland of the time which gives us insight into Irish folklore, myth and legend. One gets the strong impression from reading "Celtic Twilight" that Yeats actually believed in the existence of the faeries. Not just as some myth or legend, but as actual beings that exist in this world, though perhaps unseen by the common man. He wrote each story in "Celtic Twilight" as if it was something that actually happened, having been related to him by the storyteller, or perhaps that which he had seen for himself in some past time, now recalled as he set pen to paper. Rooted in myth and belief in magic, these stories are populated by a lively cast of sorcerers, fairies, and nature spirits. The great Irish poet heard these enchanting, mystical tales from Irish peasants, and the stories' anthropologic significance is matched by their timeless entertainment value. It is interesting to note that Yeats was heavily involved in occult studies and practices as part of the Madame Helene Blavatsky's, Theosophical Society and later, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and finally in 1912 the Ordo Templi Orientis. This would have certainly influenced his outlook on life and his belief in, and dare we say ability to see the unseen things of this world. W. B. Yeats certainly influenced the world at large with his writings. In 1923 Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and in 1934 he shared the Gothenburg Prize for Poetry with Rudyard Kipling.
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William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was an Irish poet, dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, serving as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." He was the first Irishman so honored. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers whose greatest works were completed after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929) Yeats was born and educated in Dublin but spent his childhood in County Sligo. He studied poetry in his youth, and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and those slowly paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser and Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as to the lyricism of the Pre-Raphaelite poets. From 1900, Yeats' poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life. Over the years, Yeats adopted many different ideological positions, including, in the words of the critic Michael Valdez Moses, "those of radical nationalist, classical liberal, reactionary conservative and millenarian nihilist".
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