The historical system of W.B. Yeats's A vision

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dc.contributor.advisor Prof. R.P. Ryan en_US
dc.contributor.author Dampier, Graham Anthony
dc.date.accessioned 2012-06-04T07:19:12Z
dc.date.available 2012-06-04T07:19:12Z
dc.date.issued 2012-06-04
dc.date.submitted 2012-03-07
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/4769
dc.description D.Litt. et Phil. en_US
dc.description.abstract While the historical theory of W. B. Yeats’s A Vision (1925) has received proportionately more scholarly attention than other aspects of the system, the deeper theoretical principles that inform it have not been discussed or analysed sufficiently. Many prominent scholars of the Yeats’s corpus have rejected the need to study the system all together, while others have provided simplified accounts of the historical theory elucidated in Book IV “The Great Year of the Ancients” and Book V “Dove or Swan”. A detailed study of A Vision’s historical theory is sorely needed, as we know little of how it operates at a deeper theoretical level. This thesis approached this lack by elucidating the theoretical foundation that Yeats’s discussion of history in “Dove or Swan” is based on. This required an analysis of Yeats’s idiosyncratic use of the ancient Greek concept of the “Great Year”. Yeats’s elucidation of the “Great Year” derives its distinction from the Automatic Script, which the system of A Vision is based on. In the process, Yeats’s treatment of the evolution of the “Great Year” from Plato through Ptolemy to modern astrologers was discussed. This required a lengthy and thorough examination of the geometry that informs A Vision’s historical system. This geometric scheme is complex and requires careful consideration, for it is easy to confuse the movement represented in each figure. This study provides illustrations that are derived from Yeats’s descriptions of diagrams and from his instructions of how to interpret the movement that occurs within them. This results in diagrammatic representations that have never been utilised and analysed to such a comprehensive extent. A by-product of providing an extensive and comprehensive account of the geometry that informs the historical theory of A Vision is the emergence of a barely discussed, but very crucial, geometric and theoretical component of the historical system, the line of interacting periods. The line of interacting periods represents each historical period and event as being constituted by the Four Faculties; Will, Creative Mind, Mask and Body of Fate. In effect, this line allows for an analysis of the historical system that incorporates not only the Faculties but other theoretical components of the system of A Vision as well, which includes the twenty-eight phases of the Great Wheel and the strife between the primary and antithetical tinctures. When “Dove or Swan” is viewed from this theoretical perspective Yeats’s discussion of history reveals itself to be an application of the system’s fundamental tenets to four thousand years of European history. It tries, in this way, to maintain the internal cohesion of the system as a whole. Every historical event, period and figure signifies the fluctuating dominance of one tincture over the other. Yeats’s emphasis on the development of European aesthetics results in a discussion of movements that seeks to reveal the primary and antithetical components at work during any given period of European art. Yeats’s selective interest in European history and art suggests that “Dove or Swan” is not a complete discussion of the people and events that shaped modern Europe. From one point of view, it represents an amateur historian’s quest to find empirical justification for a theory that he claims to have gleaned from a supernatural source. Seen from another angle “Dove or Swan” represents poet’s effort to apply metaphors, meant for poetry, to empirical historical data. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Yeats, W .B.(William Butler),1865-1939.Vision en_US
dc.title The historical system of W.B. Yeats's A vision en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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