The Fascination of What’s Difficult: A Survey of Yeats Criticism and Research

  • K. G. W. Cross


An account of yeats criticism from the reception of his earliest verse to, say, 1950 would make an interesting and rewarding study. The Wanderings of Oisin was well received by those who, like Oscar Wilde, were quick to note the emergence of a poet of distinction, while subsequent volumes commanded the respectful attention of three generations of critics. Even so, his reputation was by no means securely established at the time of his death. In 1939 he was still regarded primarily as the poet of Ireland, the dominant influence behind the Abbey Theatre and the Irish Literary Movement. As Nobel Prize winner and former Senator of the Irish Free State he was as much public figure as poet. The qualities of the later poetry were not widely recognized; the plays were felt to be no more than interesting experiments in an uncongenial medium; much of the prose writings were dismissed as the aberration of genius. The popular image was still that of the Pre-Raphaelite young man of the early portraits, or of the stern old man whose strange, lilting tones had sometimes been heard over the B.B.C.


Nobel Prize Winner Critical Essay Modern Writer Introductory Essay Limited Edition 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1965

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  • K. G. W. Cross

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