This paper will look at the writings of W.B. Yeats in the troubled context of Anglo-Irish relations between 1890 and 1921. While acknowledging the extent to which Yeats becomes a powerful spokesman for Irish cultural nationalism in these years, the paper will highlight some of the critical and interpretative problems that emerge when some generalised 'politically correct' version of post-colonial theory is applied to a nation (and a national literature) with its own distinctive linguistic and religious complexities. In particular, the paper will look at how Edward Said's work on Yeats and decolonization is apt to overstate the 'revolutionary nationalism' of the Irish poet and his contribution to Ireland's struggle for liberation.
Last modified: 7 May 2001