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BOOK REVIEWS "there is scarcely a poem" in which the name of the country is not found. The majority of Newbolt's poems do not have the word. Nor is he right in claiming that only one of Newbolt's poems ("Laudabunt Alii") mentions a particular province of England. He himself refers to the poem "Northumberland" just five pages earlier, and no one writing on Newbolt should overlook "Drake's Drum." These inaccuracies aside, what is one to make of Newbolt's use of proper names? According to Millard, instead of expressing a confidence in England, they betray a "crisis of identity. ... a desperate anxiety," and, furthermore, appeal to the poet because "they are not so dangerously subject to etymological change." Newbolt emerges from this analysis as one suffering anxieties about his country and his language, as a poet both politically and critically correct. Nowhere, however, do we see the duplicity of language so clearly as in the discussion of Newbolt's "Messmates," where we discover that the very title is misleading. The title leads us to assume that the poem is about messmates. After reading the poem, we might conclude that the assumption was correct and, further, that in the poem a sailor laments the death of his messmate, who lies buried at the bottom of the sea. We may be pardoned our astonishment, then, upon being told that the poem is not about messmates at all but about a lighthouse-keeper. Newbolt, it turns out, had he been anxious about the meaning of words, had he believed that language is treacherous and unreliable, would find himself vindicated. Of course, he was not anxious and it is not the words that are unreliable but Millard's interpretation, which overlooks the obvious in searching for the hidden and which attributes fashionable critical theories to poets for whom such notions were utterly alien. One may applaud the aim of this book while deploring its method. The writers of this period should be properly appreciated, but on their own terms and for what they are, not on our terms and for what they are not. If the only way to make them acceptable to modern readers is to drape them in the garb of contemporary fashion, then the effort should be abandoned. Let them rest in peace. Michael Bright Eastern Kentucky University Yeats: Critical Editions W. B. Yeats. John Sherman and Dhoya. Richard J. Finneran, ed. New York: Macmillan, 1991. xxxvii + 105 pp. $30.00 93 ELT 36 : 1 1993 THIS IS RICHARD FINNERAN'S third edition of Yeats's earliest pieces of narrative prose. He began in 1968 with a Ph. D. thesis submitted to the University of North Carolina. Subsequently the thesis was turned into a book, published in 1969 by Wayne State University Press. These are critical editions, noting the variants between the earliest publication of the stories in 1891 and their later inclusion in volume 7 of The Collected Works in Verse & Prose of 1908. The new edition, part 12 of a 14-volume project, The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats, is essentially a reading edition based on the 1908 text. Finneran provides an introduction of twenty-six pages and about seven pages of explanatory notes, making extensive use of the 1986 publication of the first volume of Yeats's Collected Letters. The introduction chronicles the gestation of the two pieces; it also gives a brief account of the critical reception of the 1891 publication and describes the revisions made for the Collected Works. Finneran does not attempt to evaluate and analyze the stories. For this one has to turn to chapters 2-3 of William H. O'Donnell's A Guide to the Prose Fiction of W. B. Yeats (Ann Arbor, 1983), to my mind the best interpretation that has appeared so far. It is good to have the two stories back in print; they are early and easily understandable indications of favorite Yeatsian themes that were to develop into more complex configurations. "Dhoya" is perhaps the less interesting specimen. Yeats was to return again and again to its thematic material, to Irish mythology and folklore and to the dramatic interaction between supernatural, immortal beings and the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 93-96
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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