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W.B. Yeats Twentieth Century Magus: An…

W.B. Yeats Twentieth Century Magus: An In-Depth Study of Yeat's Esoteric…

by Susan Johnston Graf

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This book does contain a great deal of information not generally available. It also does a service to Yeats in making clear the depth, extent and long lasting nature of his involvement with the occult. As the author explains, these aspects of Yeats' work have been ignored or treated as an embarrassment by literary critics. However, I found the book to be poorly organized. The author seemed to jump back and forth in time, so it was difficult to keep track of the relationship between the literary career and the magic. I think the reader would also benefit from knowing more of the connections to the politics of the time. Building a national literature and a national spirit for Ireland was not merely an exercise in art--there was a physical struggle for Irish independence going on, of which Yeats, Maud Gonne and others were a vital part.
  ritaer | Mar 2, 2014 |
A knowledgeable exploration of an often ignored, but fundamental, part of Irish poet WB Yeats's work: his spiritual beliefs, his participation in occult practices and how these influenced his poetry.

Graf begins by examining Yeats' connection to the Golden Dawn society, then proceeds to how his work has been perceived in literary circles and then seamlessly marries Yeats' poetry to his spiritualism and mystical practices. For a reader with knowledge of the esoteric practices that Yeats took part in, there may appear to be some repetition of the explanations of the traditions and symbols of Yeats' occult society. But, for those readers who have no exposure to these practices, this may help them grasp the complexity of thought and spiritual beliefs that drove Yeats to create the visionary poetry that he did.

Graf's calm acceptance of Yeats' occult beliefs, coupled with an intelligent and well-informed breakdown of how these motivate his poetry, is what makes this text a vital contribution to understanding Yeats as both poet and man.

The detailed exploration of Per Amica Silentia Luna (1916), as well as Yeats other works, makes for an absorbing read. Graf does not gloss over areas of intellectual doubt; rather she challenges them and seeks answers to Yeats' more obscure texts in his spirituality. The result is an inspiring and fascinating look into the soul of a great literary figure and a deeper understanding of his poetry.

(This review is for the KINDLE Edition of this book) ( )
  JudyCroome | Sep 8, 2012 |
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