EMINENT DOMAIN by Richard Ellmann


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Among poets,"" says Professor Ellmann, Yeats was ""one of the most generous,"" though ""not so generous however as to fail to take over what he needed."" Wilde, Joyce, Pound, Eliot, and Auden are the five figures whom both influenced and was influenced by--an interesting and long neglected tale investigated with all of Ellmann's well known scholarly polish and authoritative comprehensiveness. Yeats' fin de siecle aesthetic owes Just about everything to one of Wilde's dialogues, even if where Wilde was casually ironic about the system he was proposing, Yeats eventually turned it into his high-serious doctrine of the mask and the anti-self. Later, after becoming a cultural brahmin, Yeats had to suffer the experimental fervor or arrogance of another generation. Joyce developed a rival anti-Yeatsian symbolism, though in the end both Irishmen artistically complemented each other. Pound's bumptious friendship did much to sharpen Yeats' later style, Eliot kept to an attitude of puzzled reverence which reached its apotheosis after Yeats' death in the ""Little Gidding"" memorial passage; while Auden, the most recalcitrant of all, assimilating Yeatsian technique, nevertheless censured his master's preoccupation with visionary themes, theosophy, and aristocratic longings. A thoroughgoing, very revealing study.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1967
Publisher: Oxford