Wisdom of Two: The Spiritual and Literary Collaboration of George and W.B. Yeats

By Margaret Mills Harper | Go to book overview

3
'To give you new images': Published
Results

All last night the darkness was full of writing, now on stone,
now on paper, now on parchment, but I could not read it.
Were spirits trying to communicate? I prayed a great deal and
believe I am doing right.

WBY to Lady Gregory, announcing his intention to propose to
GHL, 19 September 1917 (L 633)

GY affected the texts that bear her husband's name profoundly and variously. The pages that follow examine some of the professional literary results of the collaboration—that is to say, effects of the script and other documents that appear in WBY's published works. Even so, the emphasis will not fall exclusively on specific words or ideas in poems, plays, and prose that belong to GY and can be separated distinctly from the parts written by her husband. Such an approach tends to separate the two co-writers into neater subjective categories than I am inclined to believe represents them accurately.1 GY's authorship is not neatly divisible into singly composed texts

1 Interestingly, WBY was initially eager to undertake more conventional co-authorship with GY, of the sort, for example, that he had done successfully with Lady Gregory (see Pethica, 'Our Kathleen'). After the first few months of script, he turned on 4 Jan. 1918 to the question of literary collaboration. It would be possible with several phasal combinations, he was told (notably 17, his own, and 12 or 24, those of Ezra Pound or Lady Gregory), but he could not work with GY: 'you and medium could not do practical work together'. 'How would shoe pinch if we tried practical work?' he asked. 'Different natures' was the reply; 'neither would adapt to the other'. He pressed: 'Could we not

-183-

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Wisdom of Two: The Spiritual and Literary Collaboration of George and W.B. Yeats
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Contents xiii
  • List of Illustrations xiv
  • List of Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction: 'She Finds the Words' 1
  • 1 - 'A Philosophy…Created from Search': Preliminary Issues 28
  • First Interlude - Double Visions: Two Manuscripts and Two Books 72
  • 2 - Nemo the Interpreter 94
  • Second Interlude - Automatic Performance: Technology and Occultism 151
  • 3 - 'To Give You New Images': Published Results 183
  • 4 - Demon the Medium 238
  • 5 - All the Others: Dramatis Personae 294
  • Conclusion: 'This Other Aquinas' 337
  • Bibliography 344
  • Index 365
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