W. B. Yeats's A Vision: Explications and Contexts

edited by Neil Mann, Matthew Gibson, and Claire Nally

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This book is distributed by Liverpool University Press and is available via their website, here.

About the Book

W. B. Yeats's "A Vision": Explications and Contexts is the first volume of essays devoted to A Vision and the associated system developed by W. B. Yeats and his wife, George. A Vision is all-encompassing in its stated aims and scope, and it invites a wide range of approaches—as demonstrated in the essays collected here, written by the foremost scholars in the field.

The first six essays present explications of broader themes in A Vision itself: the system's general principles; incarnate life and the Faculties; discarnate life and the Principles; how Yeats relates his own work to other philosophical approaches; and his consideration of the historical process. A further three essays include an examination of the elusive Thirteenth Cone, a consideration of astrological features in the automatic script, and a view of the poetry within A Vision. The final five essays look at contextual themes, whether of collaboration and influence—between husband, wife, and spirits, or with another poet—or the gender perspective within these interrelations, the historical context of Golden-Dawn occultism or the broader political context of fascism in the 1920s and 1930s. Throughout, the different contributors take a variety of stances with regard to texts and the automatic script.

This is an important contribution to Yeats scholarship in general and a landmark in studies of A Vision.


  • "'Everywhere that antinomy of the One and the Many': The Foundations of A Vision," by Neil Mann
  • "The Is and the Ought, the Knower and the Known: An Analysis of the Four Faculties in Yeats's System," by Rory Ryan
  • "'The Spiritual Intellect's Great Work': A Discussion of the Principles and A Vision's Account of Death," by Graham A. Dampier
  • "Ancient Frames: Classical Philosophy in Yeats's A Vision," by Charles Armstrong
  • "'Timeless and Spaceless'?—Yeats's Search for Models of Interpretation in Post-Enlightenment Philosophy, Contemporary Anthropology and Art History, and the Effects of These Theories on 'The Completed Symbol,' 'The Soul in Judgment' and 'The Great Year of the Ancients'," by Matthew Gibson
  • "W. B. Yeats's A Vision: 'Dove or Swan'," by Matthew DeForrest
  • "The Thirteenth Cone," by Neil Mann
  • "Shifting Sands: Dancing the Horoscope in the Vision Papers," by Colin McDowell
  • "'Metaphors for Poetry': Concerning the Poems of A Vision and Certain Plays for Dancers," by Wayne K. Chapman
  • "A Vision of Ezra Pound," by Catherine E. Paul
  • "Reflected Voices, Double Visions," by Margaret Mills Harper
  • "Yeats's Vision and the Feminine," by Janis Haswell
  • "Esotericism and Escape," by C. Nicholas Serra
  • "The Political Occult: Revisiting Fascism, Yeats and A Vision," by Claire V. Nally