Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Some heroic discipline: William Butler Yeats and the Oxford Book of Modern Verse
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This project explores William Butler Yeats's work as editor of the 1936 Oxford Book of Modern Verse, with emphasis on Yeats's sense of his own place among the poets of his day. The study considers all of the 379 poems by the ninety-seven writers included in the anthology (as well as notable omissions) in the context of Yeats's critical writings and correspondence; where possible, it identifies the sources consulted by Yeats for his selections, and the circumstances of publication. It also examines the degree to which Yeats saw the anthology as a way to influence the emerging literary consensus of the mid-1930s. Finally, it argues that the anthology offers the same essentially neo-Romantic critique of modernity that can be found in Yeats's own poems -- a sense that to be modern is to wrestle with an impulse to believe, despite circumstances that weaken the basis for such belief. Chapter I relates the details of the book's conception, gestation, and publication. Chapter II addresses the late-Victorian poets, including both avant-garde decadents with whom he identified and late-Victorian mainstream poets against whom he reacted. Chapter III explores Yeats's selections from contemporaries among the Edwardian-era writers, including those whose modern sensibility separated them from the Victorians. Chapter IV considers the many Irish poets that Yeats included in the anthology, and the ways in which the Irish experience embodied the modern problem for him. Chapter V addresses his reaction to the Georgian-era writers and war poets whose sensibility was shaped before the First World War, but whose best-known work appeared during and after it. Finally, Chapter VI considers the modernist poets inspired by T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, whom he answered with a more idiosyncratic version of what it meant to be modern.