Pseudonym, more correctly Æ though more frequently found as A E, used by the Irish poet George William Russell (1867-1935) for all his writing. In 1886 he and William Butler Yeats helped found the Dublin Lodge of the Theosophical Society (see Theosophy) and much of his work reflects a mystical agenda – not very coherently in the supernatural tales assembled in The Mask of Apollo, and Other Stories (coll 1904), but with very much more force in The Interpreters (1922), set in a great City in the indeterminate future just as a long-lived Pax Aeronautica dissolves into factional warfare involving great Airships; those captured in this schism then engage in philosophical debates. More elegiacally, in The Avatars: A Futurist Fantasy (1932), set in a future Ireland, this agenda comes to life as two supernal beings hauntingly invoke a vision of a world less abandoned to materialism, their seductive discourse drawing the protagonists to "the margin of the Great Deep", as Monk Gibbon puts it in his long and informative essay on A E's work which introduces The Living Torch (coll 1937), a posthumous volume of nonfiction. "The House of the Titans", the long narrative tale that dominates The House of the Titans and Other Poems (coll 1934 chap), inhabits similar territory. [JC]
see also: Joseph O'Neill.
George William Russell
born Lurgan, Ulster: 10 April 1867
died Bournemouth, Dorset: 17 July 1935
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