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Yeats, faeries, and the Irish occult tradition

W. B. Yeats is usually seen as a great innovator who put his stamp so decisively on modern Irish literature that most of his successors worked in his shadow. R. F. Foster’s new book, Words Alone: Yeats and his Inheritances, weaves together literature and history to present an alternative perspective.

By returning to the rich seed-bed of nineteenth-century Irish writing, Foster charts some of the influences, including romantic ‘national tales’ in post-Union Ireland, the poetry and polemic of the Young Ireland movement, the occult and supernatural novels of Sheridan LeFanu, William Carleton’s ‘peasant fictions’, and fairy-lore and folktale collectors that created the unique and powerful Yeatsian voice of the decade from 1885 to 1895.

In the video below, R. F. Foster talks more about Yeats, faeries, and the Irish occult tradition.

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