‘Only Poets and Occultists Believe in Them Just Now’: Fairies and the Modernist Crisis of Authorship

  • Per Faxneld
Part of the Palgrave Studies in New Religions and Alternative Spiritualities book series (PSNRAS)


A fragmentation of self often informed the modernist quest for redefining the authorial self, a development explored in this chapter. The focus lies on the crisis of authorship as it manifested in the works of British writers and artists who claimed to have been inspired by fairies or even had their works produced by fairies. Occultist, antiquarian and artistic discourses concerning fairies could collide, as the chapter’s case study of William Butler Yeats shows. In a milieu where fairies were captured in photographs and cited as inspiration for paintings and literature, fairies could play an important role in experiments into fragmenting the authorial self, contributing to the modernist perception of the creative subject as passive and unstable, or even splintered, by ascribing artistic innovation to external entities.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per Faxneld
    • 1
  1. 1.Södertörn UniversityStockholmSweden

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