January 12, 2008

Yeats on the Victorians

Category: History,Literature,Miscellaneous :: Permalink

In one of his letters to his brother, C. S. Lewis talks about having met William Butler Yeats, whose poetry he had once admired.  The first meeting, Lewis says, was very strange.  A few days later, however, Lewis visited Yeats at his home again, and this time Yeats “was almost quite sane, and talked about books and things, still eloquently and quite intelligently.”

Lewis summarizes something Yeats said about the “great Victorians,” which I found interesting for the light it sheds on that period:

The most interesting thing about the Victorian period was their penchant for selecting one typical great man in each department — Tennyson, THE poet, Roberts, THE soldier: and then these types were made into myths.  You never heard of anyone else: if you spoke of medicine it meant — (some ‘THE Doctor’ whose name I have forgotten): if you spoke of politics it was Gladstone (in Lewis, Collected Letters, 1:534).

Posted by John Barach @ 5:26 pm | Discuss (0)

Leave a Reply