Yeats admired Goethe, but it's hardly likely he would have agreed with the Sage of Weimar that the work of historians was...

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SWAN AND SHADOW

Yeats admired Goethe, but it's hardly likely he would have agreed with the Sage of Weimar that the work of historians was ""a refuse can and a junk pile; at best a government project."" Yeats, according to Professor Whitaker's hugely exploratory study, held a dialogue with history ""as with his double and antiself."" And indeed, though he often played the role of ""simplification by intensity,"" and though he was so great an enemy of the abstract he could quip. ""You can refute Hegel but not the Saints or the Song of Sixpence,"" it was such historical master-builders as Hegel or Plato, Vico, Nietzsche, Croce, Petrie, Spengler and so forth who influenced so much of his intellectual development. This point, which most scholars minimize, Dr. Whitaker amplifies in a remarkably rich and referential manner. And his unravelling of the intricacies of 1919, aciallation, The Tower, or of the obscurities of A Vision, of Yeats' cyclical concerns, of his symbolic use of freedom and determinism, of the sunlit swan that ""drifts on the still water"" and the other existential one drifting ""upon a darkening flood,"" are all encompassed with a rare cogency and fullness of range. It is definitely a work of sizable scholarship and all further considerations of Yeasts will surely have to take it into account.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1964