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Vision, A

A Packet for Ezra Pound, A Vision, Yeats's ‘Vision’ Papers

yeats edition original phases

a prose work by W. B. Yeats, originally published privately in 1925 and made generally available in considerably revised form in 1937. In A Packet for Ezra Pound (1929), which was included in the 1937 edition as an introduction, Yeats described how the book's system of twenty-eight historical and cultural phases was communicated to him by spirits through his wife's automatic writing. The phases, which together form a recurrent cosmic cycle, ordain the content of history, the nature of religious and ideological belief, and the dispositions of individuals. Yeats's favourable interest in Irish fascism in the early 1930s may be regarded as a product of the rigidly determinist philosophy of history in the original text. Refinements in the second edition admitted the possibility of circumventing historical determinism. For many, A Vision must be, in Louis MacNeice's words, ‘the most ingenious, the most elaborate, and the most arid of his writings’. Its centrality to Yeats's later verse is, however, undeniable. Transcripts of the automatic writings and other original materials relating to the work are contained in Yeats's ‘Vision’ Papers (3 volumes, 1992), edited by George Mills Harper, author of The Making of Yeats's ‘A Vision’ (2 volumes, 1987).

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