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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.34 pp.217-232

Transnationalism in William Butler Yeats and Louise Bennet*

Kim Youngmin


The postmodernizing of Yeats had been a risky and tricky enterprise. As NaomiSchor in “Introduction” in Flaubert and Postmodernism (1984) points out,postmodernism in all its multiple manifestations is a moment “in” and “of”modernism. Daniel O’Hara, Paul A Bove, Geoffrey Hartman, Paul de Man, and J.Hillis Miller attempt such projects. Nevertheless, with very few exceptions, Yeatshas been used by theorists mainly in examples within a longer theoretical argument,and very few works of book-length criticism have been studied. After that, I havebeen working since 1991 on postmodernizing Yeats from the perspective ofNietzschean postmodernism of genealogy which ranges from Nietzsche, Heidegger,Derrida, Foucault, and Lyotard, and from this critical standpoint I have been relatingmodernism with postmodernism in an intriguing doubleness so that rhetoric wouldbe the anchor from which doubling strategies of postmodernism have been revealingand disrevealing. Yeats’s poetry and poetics reveal such aspects of both modernismand postmodernism, just like his symbol or emblem of gyres, although the nature ofpostmodernism turns out to be extensive post-isms.
However, my contention in the paper is that the Yeatsian transnational poeticsin terms of the “transdiscursive position” of the Other will provide the lenses forrereading the modern and contemporary poetic texts as well as the topographicalfluid intermappings of the poetic globe. By taking William Butler Yeats’s poeticsand poetry as an initiating analysis, the untranslability across the East/West dividewill be left open by the space of the Other which “is something strange to me,although it is at the heart of me.” The center of the subject is outside, therefore,ex-centric in the discourse of the Other. I would argue that the locus for this untranslability to be crossed over in terms of the “in-between” or “intersticies” isrepresented by cross-cultural/transcultural or transnational poetries in English. Whentranslating from one language to another linguistically or culturally, there are oftenmultiple meanings for a particular word, sentences, a poem, or a series of poems,the meanings which have been blocked in the contact zone or border zone oftransnationalism to be transgressed, transmigrated, transported, and translated. LouiseBennet’s poetry is one example of this transnational poetry.


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