Metaphysics and Masks (1908–1917)

  • Noreen Doody


This chapter examines the concept of mask in Yeats’s work and acknowledges the evolution of this concept during the period 1908–1917. Wilde is shown to be a constant creative presence for Yeats and is deeply implicated in Yeats’s initial interest and thinking on mask. The image of Wilde himself in De Profundis is shown as making a crucial contribution to Yeats’s ideas on image and mask and being an important source of the self-discipline involved in both topics. The Player Queen and its preparatory manuscripts reveal Wilde’s influence on Yeats’s thinking on mask and the process of that thought, beginning with borrowings from Wilde (in particular, his essay, “The Decay of Lying”) to their later conversion into Yeats’s own imaginative rendering of the idea of mask. Yeats worked on this play from 1908 to1910 and again from 1915 to 1917. This chapter focuses on the earlier “borrowing” years (1908–1910) and carries out textual analysis of the manuscripts and typescripts of this play during that period.



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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noreen Doody
    • 1
  1. 1.Dublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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