York Beach: Samuel Weiser Inc., 2000. Paperback, xvi+223 pages. New.
William Butler Yeats moved through a wide variety of spiritual practices over his lifetime – he was an early member of the Theosophical Society, a member of the Golden Dawn, and was greatly influenced by Celtic lore, the works of Swedenborg, Jacob Boehme, Neo-Platonism, and later in life, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Susan Johnston Graf’s W.B. Yeats – Twentieth-Century Magus is an in-depth exploration of Yeats’ magical life and how it influenced the development of his poetry, with a particular focus on the period of his life when he was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Drawing on contemporary Yeats scholarlship and reproducing extracts from Yeats’ letters and magical diaries, she traces the development of Yeats’ magical and poetic worldview and demonstrates how the two poles fed and nurtured each other. With a particular focus on Yeats’ most enigmatic work, “A Vision”, published in 1925, when Yeats was experimenting with automatic writing, W.B. Yeats – Twentieth-Century Magus is a book which will be of interest to Yeats scholars, historians of the occult, and any lovers of Yeats’ mystical poetry alike.