A Reader's Guide to Yeats's A Vision

BookA Reader's Guide to Yeats's A Vision

A Reader's Guide to Yeats's A Vision

Clemson University Press


January 31st, 2019



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W. B. Yeats is one of the most important writers in English of the twentieth century, and the system of A Vision is generally recognized as fundamental to the power and achievement of his later poetry. Yet this strange mixture of esoteric geometry, lunar symbolism, and sweeping generalization has proven frustrating to generations of readers, who have found it obscure in both matter and presentation. This book helps readers to approach and understand the origins, structure, and implications of the system. Concentrating on the 1937 revised edition of A Vision, the treatment is divided into major topic areas with several levels: a general introduction to each topic; a fuller and deeper examination of that topic, drawing on A Vision's two versions and the manuscript background, and forming the bulk of each chapter; an examination of how the topic manifests in Yeats's literary work; full notes to explore conceptual and textual problems. The first three chapters examine the background and origins of A Vision; the central seven chapters look at the major elements involved in the system; the following four at the major processes of life and history. The main treatment ends with a summary and conclusion, and is supplemented by a glossary of terms and appendices.


Author Information

Neil Mann works as an editor, translator, and teacher, and as an independent scholar, specializing in the works of W. B. Yeats, particularly his esoteric interests and A Vision. He is one of the readers who is simultaneously frustrated and fascinated by A Vision and the system that W. B. Yeats and his wife, George, elaborated through years of occult experiment and personal research. In 2002, he created the website YeatsVision.com as a resource for those seeking to understand this work better, and this book is the result of some forty years of engagement with A Vision, Yeats's work as a whole, and the background of nineteenth-century spirituality.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures13
List of Tables17
List of Abbreviations19
Policy on References and Style25
1. Overview: The Book of A Vision29
2. Genesis: Making and Remaking A Vision51
3. Background: Antecedents and Assumptions63
4. Presentation: Gyres and Geometry79
5. Spirits: Determinism and Free Will105
6. Being: Human and Divine115
7. The Faculties: Action and Pursuit137
8. The Principles: Reality and Value163
9. The Daimon: Opposition and Essence179
10. The Divine: One and Many199
11. The Circles of Life: Wheels and Rebirth213
12. The Twenty-Eight Incarnations: Lives and Phases233
13. After Life: Understanding and Preparation269
14. History: Cycles and Influx293
15. Reframing A Vision321
Appendix: Phase Attributions329