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HUMANITIES 503 The essays, originally prepared with diverse contexts in mind, naturally differ among themselves in range and, to some extent, in level of formality, though such variations nowhere pose problems for readers. One essay in particular, 'Mr Yeats, Michael Robartes and Their Circle' (first published in Yeats and the Occult in 1976)1 occupies almost thirty pages and is an ambitious piece, seeming close to definitive in its comprehensive treatment of Yeats's Michael Robartes persona and the portions of Yeats's thought which he deployed Robartes to expound. It also investigates with some dexterity broader patterns and structures in Yeats's thought and writings. Its companion essay in the 'Phantasmagoria' section, 'The Presence of the Poet: or, \Nhat Sat Down at the Breakfast Table?/ is much lighter, but the two essays balance one another rather neatly for this very reason. A similar complementarity links the bibliographical rigour of the essay on The Countess Kathleen and the critical nimbleness of its companion essay on Oisin. The Oisin essay's identification of the poem's demon with Professor Dowden could be questioned (Yeats's own autobiographical account of his conflict with John F. Taylor seems to suggest a closer parallet or we might prefer to argue for a less specific source)/ but the controversial reading lends additional energy to the account of the poem. Throughout these essays, the criticism remains robust clear-eyed, and unflinching in the best Yeatsian tradition, and entirely unfazed by problems of scale: minor details and vast designs are always treated with equal aplomb. Given their varied origins, topics and methods, we might not have expected from such a collection of essays anything like a central theme. Yet such a theme does seem to me to emerge, and it is this: despite all the critical attention Yeats has received in the last three decades, we have yet to give him sufficient credit for the sheer quality of his thought notably his thought about /poetics,' and the integrity with which he based his creative work on it. All that astonishing poetry achieved greatness not only through his evident gift for lyric but, as if antithetically/ through unflinching philosophical rigour and his ability to rivet the poems to an underlying intellectual structure of remarkable toughness. Sidnell's essays persistently, dextrously, and cumulatively bring before us a Yeats less quirky, more cogent, logicat and determined than most conunentators have seen. It seems to me an entirely convincing portrait. (DAVID G. WRIGHT) Janet Wright. Crown Assets and the Architecture ofthe Department of Public Works, 1867-1967 University of Toronto Press. viii, 326. $75.00 cloth, $35.00 paper It is estimated that the federal government owns no less than sixty-five thousand buildings across the country. A part of virtually everyone's life, these buildings range in size from the monumental and grand (public 504 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Ottawa comes to mind) to the prosaic and insignificant. They include an astonishing array of building types. From drill halls, penitentiaries, armouries, and hospitals to schools/ colleges, immigration halls, post offices, and custom houses, all manner ofbuildings have been and continue to be found within the purview of the federal government. In 1982 the cultural and historic value of this architectural legacy was recognized by approval o£ the federal heritage review policy- a process for evaluating and identifying buildings of heritage value. Crown Assets: The Architecture ofthe Department ofPublic Works,1867-1967 is a testament to the wisdom of that policy and is to some degree a consequence of it. It is a copublication of the University of Toronto Press and the Department of Canadian Heritage, Parks Canada, while its author, Janet Wright, is widely recognized as one of the most experienced and adept architectural historians in the federal civil service. The task of producing a cohesive history of so varied and extensive a body of architecture must have seemed a daunting task, but it is to her credit that Wright has succeeded with admirable skill. The result is a book which gives the reader ~ot just a feeling for the aesthetic value of federal architecture but also a sense of its developm.ent from the formation of the chief architect...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 503-505
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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