The Collected Edition of the Works of W. B. Yeats (London: Macmillan): vol. VI: Prefaces and Introductions: Uncollected Prefaces and Introductions by Yeats to Works by Other Authors and to Anthologies Edited by Yeats, edited by William H. O’Donnell (1988) xxxi + 370 pp.; vol. VII: Letters to the New Island: A New Edition, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer (1989) xxi + 200 PP.

  • A. Norman Jeffares
Part of the Yeats Annual book series (YA)


William H. O’Donnell has collected thirty-two prefaces and introductions not included by Yeats in collections of essays. Yeats eventually abandoned the essay “Thoughts on Lady Gregory’s Translations” from The Cutting of an Agate (1912), which he had assembled from the prefaces to Cuchulain of Muirthemne (1902) and Gods and Fighting Men (1904). That essay might have been collected in the volume of The Collected Edition to be entitled Early Essays, but instead it is collected in this volume, while the two prefaces upon which it is based have been ignored. Similarly, the essay “Modern Irish Poetry”, revised out of successive states of the Preface to A Book of Irish Verse Selected from Modern Writers for the 1908 Collected Works and subsequently dropped, is here printed instead of the version which remained in the Methuen collection. When is a preface a preface, and when an essay? These, presumably are the quirks of the general editors, but a chance has been lost to make available increasingly rare states of Yeats’s prose.


General Editor Book Form Early Essay Modern Writer Present Editor 
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© Deirdre Toomey 1992

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  • A. Norman Jeffares

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