Spring 1948 • Vol. X No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 1948 |

Yeats as a Playwright

It cannot be said that Yeats has much of a reputation as a playwright. Literary critics speak of his plays at best as something that helped him to write poems. Theatre people outside Dublin have never heard of him. Even in Dublin his plays were never the favorites, and by now most of them have disappeared from the Abbey Theatre's repertoire. If we are undaunted by all this and decide to look into Yeats's plays for ourselves, we are apt to approach them by way of two very depressing literary movements—the "Irish Renaissance" and the Poetic Drama of the late-Victorian and post-Victorian era. The Irish Renaissance is depressing because it didn't exist, the Poetic Drama movement because it did. Read Edward Martyn and A. E., read the verse plays of Bridges and Masefield and Sturge Moore and Gordon Bottomley, and you will quickly lose interest in the Irish Renaissance, the revival of poetic drama, and perhaps even in life itself. A generation ago, Granville-Barker tells us, ever

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By Eric Bentley

It cannot be said that Yeats has much of a reputation as a playwright. Literary critics speak of his plays at best as something that helped him to write poems. […]

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