Article Title

Symbols, Signs, and Language: The Brothers Yeats and Samuel Beckett's Art of the Theater


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Recent productions of works by William Butler Yeats and Samuel Beckett on both sides of the Atlantic-in New York at the Public Theater and at La Mama, in London at the Yeats Theatre Company, and in Paris at the Théâtre Oblique-have spawned interest in two of this century's Irish Nobel Laureates. Among those who have commented on the work of both playwrights is Katharine Worth, who forcefully argues in The Irish Drama of Europe from Yeats to Beckett that W. B. Yeats "is at the centre of the modern movement in the theatre," a movement "which leads above all to Beckett."1 The influence of W. B. Yeats is writ large in the Beckett canon, according to this critic, who asserts that even the late plays of Beckett, revolutionary as they are, merely bring us very close "to the 'door'," in Yeatsian phrase; "the in extremis situations of Beckett's characters in Not I, That Time, Footfalls, Ghost Trio, and ... but the clouds . .. are scarcely more than pale reflections of the depth of W. B. Yeats' mind."2

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