Mishkan ha-Echad

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Victorian Vice

Continuing the Yeats theme of the previous post, here's the passage I mentioned earlier about Yeats and his attitude towards sex:

W.B. Yeats described the summer of 1897, when he was 32, as "the most miserable time of my life". He went on to say, "I was tortured by sexual desire and disappointed love... When desire became an unendurable torture, I would masturbate, and that, no matter how moderate I was, would make me ill." Now, admittedly he was taking hashish pills at the time, which may or may not have influenced his feelings of illness, but it seems hard to deny that his reaction to masturbation was extreme, although probably not uncommon for the Victorian era. I have to admit that, as a young Irish man myself, I find these kinds of accounts quite surprising, even to one already aware of the Victorian attitude towards sex. I wonder if Yeats' extreme view, and that of Moina described in a previous post, was shared by other Golden Dawn members of the time?
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