BL. W. B. Yeats

119. The Theatre of W. B. Yeats. Edited by Roger McHugh Threshold 19. Yeats Centenary Issue. Belfast: Threshold, 1965.

In addition to the essays noted below, includes Pronoti Baksi’s ‘The Japanese Noh: A Survey’ and Frederick Kalister’s ‘The Rhythm and Music of Noh Drama’, both of which offer basic outlines of their subjects that have been superseded by more recent work in English, and neither of which directly addresses Yeats’s understanding of the form.

a. McHugh, Roger. ‘The Plays of W. B. Yeats’. Places Yeats’s ‘nô plays’ in the Symbolist tradition of Mallarmé and Maeterlinck. Assertions that nô is ‘essentially didactic’ and was developed as ‘a method of training . . . samurai . . . in the ritual, literature and folklore of their own culture’ are misunderstandings.

b. Oshima, Shôtarô. ‘Yeats and the Japanese Theatre’. Like much of Oshima’s work, includes interesting details—in this case, in particular, about Itô (Ap) and performances of At the Hawk’s Well (12) in Japan—but relies ultimately on essentialist assertions about supposed similarities between the ‘Celts’, who are ‘endowed with more sensibility than reason, and are subjective rather than objective’, and the Japanese. To be fair to Oshima, and to other Japanese critics who rely on the point, Yeats himself provided the groundwork for it in works such as ‘Swedenborg, Mediums, and the Desolate Places’ (15a) and his introduction to Certain Noble Plays of Japan (11), but even in those works he was careful to universalise his assertions, and to posit both Japanese and Irish temperaments as representative of a larger tradition of cultural and aesthetic sensibility that had perceived that the dead are near to the living. Reprinted, revised and corrected, as Part I of ‘Yeats and the “Noh” Plays’ (124b).





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