Joe Humphreys (The Irish Times)
Yeats engaged in ‘cultural mutiny’ against the encroachment of science
“Rational” is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of WB Yeats. He was a devoted follower of the occult, magic and astrology, and a romantic celebrant of fairies and unrequited love, but he had what George Orwell called a “fascist tendency” in the political realm.
Harsh words indeed, although Yeats unashamedly elevated imagination over rational calculation. As the late Thomas Duddy explained in A History of Irish Thought: “Turning away from what he calls ‘the scientific movement’ in literature, [Yeats] orients himself towards those things that natural science chooses to ignore or despise . . . This ‘love of the Unseen life’ is as much a gesture of cultural mutiny – a defiant gesture towards the encroachment of science – as an article of faith.”