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Constructing the Tower: Yeats as Architect

Iwatsubo, Tomoko (2015) Constructing the Tower: Yeats as Architect. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

W. B. Yeats’s tower, the most “visible” symbol in his work, is a product of his concerted labour over more than a decade. It marks a crucial phase of Yeats’s poetic career in the wake of Responsibilities and the Easter Rising. The Rebellion and its repercussions both public and private acted as a catalyst for the inception of his “tower project” in the period of dramatic personal and national transformation. This study focuses around the genesis and gradual elaboration of Yeats’s tower, the sheer work that went into its creation as well as the repeated pattern of interaction between Yeats’s agency and contingency in his poetic construction in the period leading up to The Tower and beyond. This biography of Yeats’s tower traces the development of the architectural dimension of Yeats’s later poetry, setting it against the poet’s parallel reconstruction of the particular building, Thoor Ballylee. The thesis illuminates the ways in which Yeats’s tower poetry evolved into his major poetic project, a landmark and cornerstone of his later work, with its grand scope gradually unfolding even to the poet himself. Combining the poet’s biography with genetic analyses of all the tower-related poems from The Wild Swans at Coole (1919) to The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933), including explorations of materials which have hitherto tended to be overlooked on this supposedly well-trodden ground, the thesis casts an unfamiliar light on the tower, one of the most familiar landmarks of modern poetry, and highlights its chronologically changing picture—moving “[m]inute by minute,” as it were, shadowed by Irish conflicts. The thesis also demonstrates how closely interwoven different kinds of “building”—literal, textual, political and symbolic—were in Yeats’s life and work during the turbulent and transformative years following the birth of “terrible beauty.”

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Yeats, tower, Thoor Ballylee, genetic analysis
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Ms Tomoko Iwatsubo
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2016 14:46
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2016 14:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13443

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