BL. W. B. Yeats

97. Thwaite, Anthony. ‘Yeats and the Noh’. Twentieth Century 162 (1957): 235-42.

Thwaite’s work was by far the most insightful study of the subject in 1957, and remains useful, even if subsequent scholarship has demonstrated that some of its assertions are incorrect. Several studies have shown, for example, that even in 1915 Itô (Ap) and Fenollosa’s notes were not the only sources of information about the nô available to Pound and Yeats (see notes at BK172), as Thwaite himself tacitly acknowledges in his reference to Stopes (see D23). Argues that Pound’s work with the nô lacks the ‘chameleon-like quality’ that makes his other translations powerful, but that in Yeats the influence ‘caught fire’, and his later development as a playwright ‘took root from this one source’. This is, remarkably, the first critical work to note one of the more provocative issues in the study, ‘the link between Yeats’s interest in the Noh and his interest in spiritualism’ (see Longenbach [BK183] for the best analysis of the point), and among the first to suggest that even if the ‘manner of presentation’ of Yeats’s later plays is ‘taken over wholesale from the Noh’, the form served less as a ‘model’ than as a ‘justification’ for an already-established theory of drama. Notes about the source of lines in Byzantium (32a) in Motomezuka (see D23) are developed further by Wilson (98) and Eide (148).





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