Alasdair D. F. Macrae, W. B. Yeats: A Literary Life
THIS BOOK APPEARS TO BE AIMED at A-Level and undergraduate students reading Yeats for the first time. It is well constructed, telling the familiar story of Yeats’s life in eight chronological chapters of approximately equal length. The account is spiced up with details from recent research, including some published in earlier Yeats Annuals, so that what you get is a more up to date version of the life than that provided by Ellmann or Jeffares. A ‘literary life’ implies a symbiotic treatment of ‘the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast’ and the author’s ‘intended, complete’ work. The main emphasis of this book is on ‘locating’ Yeats, in placing his work within the wider context of his life and time. To this end Macrae has constructed each chapter so that the reader is given some impression of Yeats’s literary activities and achievements, and of the important influences acting upon him at various stages of his developing life. The focus of the book moves back and forth between the life and the work, dwelling on the essential continuity of Yeats’s themes and concerns. Drawing effectively on his teaching experience, Macrae anticipates the qualms, irritations and resentments which students sometimes have when reading Yeats. The writing style is always accessible and reassuring, the idiom adapted to accommodate the neophyte.
KeywordsDate Version Main Emphasis Writing Style Biographical Sketch Contingent Happening
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