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Yeats and Postcolonialism


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This paper is an attempt to read Yeats's poetry in terms of postcolonialism. Drawing on the recent studies of Yeats and Irish literature, performed by such critics and scholars as Edward Said, David Lloyd, Declan Kiberd, and Jahan Ramazani, the paper examines the various aspects of Yeats as a postcolonial poet.
The fist part of the paper deals with the problems that we might encounter when we try to define the postcoloniality of Ireland, which is, in Luke Gibbons's words, "a First World country, but with a Third World memory." There also might be some difficulty in deciding when the postcolonial literature in English began in Ireland. Considering these problems and difficulties, the present writer understands the term "postcolonial" as "anticolonial" rather than "postindependence" or "since colonization," and discusses Yeats's poems which reveal the poet's anticolonial
attitude toward England.
The next main part of the paper begins by proposing "hybridity" as a feature of postcolonial literature in general. It is assumed that the concept of hybridity can provide the most appropriate and efficient way of understanding the true nature of Yeats's postcoloniality. In this respect, the poet's familial background as an Anglo-Irish Protestant, his complex relationships with the English poets, especially Spenser and Shakespeare, and his use of the English language are discussed.
Lastly, in order to see postcolonial hybridity in the specific poetic forms of Yeats's poetry, this paper discusses the use of place names and mythologies, both Irish and non-Irish, in his poems, as an anticolonial and hybridizing gesture. The paper also discusses some aspects of Yeats's poetic style, such as the lyrical form, poetic diction, and images and symbols, and shows how he hybridizes the poetic style which he inherited from the English poetic tradition.




  • 윤정묵 Yoon,Jung Mook. 전남대


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