Yeats’s “Vision” Papers: First Impressions

  • Colin McDowell
Part of the Yeats Annuals book series (YA)


It is possible, but not probable, that the recent publication of Yeats’s “Vision” Papers will usher in a change in the prevailing at-titude to A Vision in both of its editions. Scholars routinely make dismissive noises about them based on the most cursory of ex-aminations and second-hand opinion, and there has been little serious work done on either version. This lamentable state of affairs would be unthinkable in almost any other field of study; but no reviewer of Graham Hough’s The Mystery Religion of W. B. Yeats (1984) took exception to Hough’s condescending suggestion that readers should ignore completely the section of A Vision B en-titled “The Completed Symbol” along with other large chunks of the book. It is ironic that Hough’s Frustrators told him to ignore precisely those sections of the book in which W. B. Yeats attempted to explain the full system and the relationship of all its parts. I have elsewhere expressed my view that one should attempt to understand A Vision, particularly the second edition, without ref-erence to unpublished materials, otherwise it will become difficult to assess the achievement of the finished product as a book in its own right. Now that the Scripts have been published, one may study them or not, as one chooses; but there is little point in imposing artificial constraints on one’s understanding.


Literary Critic General Editor Card File Final Edition Artificial Constraint 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1995

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  • Colin McDowell

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