Saturday 13 September 2008

Overall, a disappointing show by William "Bad-Ass" Yeats

I had no idea that W.B. Yeats wrote anything but dense and headache-inducing (in the positive sense) poetry until I happened upon Mythologies during one late night's browsing on Bloor St. West many moons ago.

I was intrigued to read some folk tales by a writer as uber-modern as Yeats, and to be honest, was not very secretly hoping that these old tales would be as kick-ass as the old folk tales in Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (though much different, of course).

Whereas Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio had me from the word go, I had trouble getting into Mythologies, unfortunately. Yeats' book is a collection of several smaller works of his, so is actually quite diverse; indeed, the diversity of Yeats' writing is stunning even if I don't always enjoy how it manifests.

The first part, The Celtic Twilight, was a collection of ghost stories which were quite often related to Yeats by "an old woman of Mayo" and they read like ramble-y, unformalized oral tales - that is, not very well.

The following sections, especially about the one about Red Hanrahan, I enjoyed for while they were folksy, Yeats brought his considerable linguistic skills to bear on telling simple tales pretty well.

But then naughty William B. lost me again in the final three sections, but especially with Per Amica Silentia Lunae, which was a convoluted collection of meditations on writing and the nature of the soul, with the latter ideas being pretty basic and uninteresting ones dressed up in fancy clothes and fawned over for much too long.

I think it's been quite some time since I wrote a post so boring. It's true that it is early in the morning and my brain is being squeezed by lack of caffeine. It's also true that it's cloudy again here, which makes me want to hibernate and eat chocolate; yes, somehow at the same time. But in the end, Mythologies, which had some parts I did enjoy, has already almost completely faded from my memory and I think this lukewarm (in every way) review reflects that. Hopefully, my stunning intellect and irresistible charm will be revived for the next post. Le sigh.

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