BL. W. B. Yeats

227. Londraville, Richard. ‘I Have Longed for Such a Country: The Cuchulain Cycle as Peking Opera’. Yeats: An Annual of Critical and Textual Studies 2 (1984): 165-94.

During a year as visiting professor at Taipei, Londraville arranged for production of Yeats’s Cuchulain plays, including AT THE HAWK’S WELL (12), THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER (14b), and THE DEATH OF CUCHULAIN (44a), in the style of Chinese opera. His central aim here is to describe the rationale for and results of doing so, but along the way he offers an analysis of what the nô meant for Yeats that brings new language to the subject (see particularly pp. 165-73). Yeats ‘needed a drama in which he could show a spiritual rather than a temporal reality’, but in twentieth-century Dublin and London found no ‘body of myth’ against which to work toward this end. It was in the nô that he finally discovered what he had been lacking, a dramatic form connected intimately with mythic tradition and the Anima Mundi (see 13), and this discovery changed his own dramatic work ‘absolutely’, in ‘many variations . . . buil[t] on the Noh’, in each play he wrote after 1916.





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