mas” was being fought in union hallsrnand in state legislatures.rnIronically, efforts by reformers to “domesticate”rnChristmas, to make “keepingrnChristmas” something one did at homernin the company of a few close friends andrnfamily members, or to accentuate thernNativity of Christ as the center of the festivalrn(eventually displacing Easter as therncentral event of the Christian calendarrnand giving consumerism an advantagernover Christianity), were themselvesrncoopted by the new socioeconomic order.rnThe emerging consumerism of thernera undermined the exchange of goodrnwill and the affirmation of status throughrnrole reversal in the exchange betweenrnSanta Claus and child (gift and affectionrnfor good behavior, gratitude, and reciprocalrnlove). As production was separatedrnfrom the household, and goods, services,rnand a variety of foodstuffs became readilyrnavailable to the expanding urban middlernclass in 19th-century America, thern”specialness” of the Christmas gift wasrntransformed into the frustrating searchrnfor the “right gift,” The problem of whatrnto give the man, woman, or child whorn”has everything”—and often appreciatesrnnothing—was built into capitalism andrnthe “domestic Christmas” from the beginning.rn”Affection’s gift” had become arncommercial present, aggressively marketedrnby commercial interests promotingrnthe “domestic Christmas.” “Christmas,”rnwrites Mr. Nissenbaum, “was consciouslyrnused by entrepreneurs as an agent ofrncommercialization, an instrument withrnwhich to enmesh Americans in a web ofrnconsumer capitalism.”rnIn this way the yearning for an unfulfilledrndomesticity, for the genuine affectionrnand warmth so often subtly tied tornmutual aid and reciprocity, contributedrnto the “accumulative, competitive” ideologyrnthat produces the familiar “BluernChristmas” mood. “The problems we associaternwith Christmas, in particular—rnthe loss of authenticity, the decline ofrnpure domestic felicity into an exhaustingrnand often frustrating round of shoppingrnfor the perfect gifts —are the very problemsrnwe most easily associate with thernfacts of modern economic life, with ad-rnanced technologies of production andrnmarketing.” The intensity of feeling forrnthe domestic Christmas traditions was itselfrnindicative of the need to “keep hiddenrnfrom view” the relationship betweenrnan eroded sense of community and commercialism,rn”to protect children (andrnadults, too) from understanding somethingrntroublesome about the world theyrnwere making.” The secularized anti-rnChristian bias was present in embryonicrnform at the creation of industrial America,rnowing in part to consumerism andrnthe rise of telescopic philanthropy, bothrnof which are part of liberal capitalism’srngenetic code. In an era marked by therncollapse of family life and community,rnsuch “protection [from the truth] may bernan indulgence we can no longer afford.”rnPutting Christ back into this Christmasrnmay be the biggest battle of all.rnWayne AUensworth writes fromrnPurcelhille, Virginia.rnA Life in Themesrnby Frank BrownlowrnW.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. I:rnThe Apprentice Mage, 1865-1914rnby R.F. FosterrnOxford and New York:rnOxford University Press;rn704 pp., $35.00rnBy any assessment, W.B. Yeats was anrnextiaordinary man who led a morernactive and varied life than most poets. AsrnR.F. Foster says, he was “a poetic geniusrnwho was also, both serially and simultaneously,rna playwright, journalist, occultist,rnapprentice politician, revolutionary,rnstage-manager, diner-out, dedicatedrnfriend, confidant and lover of some of thernmost interesting people of his day.” Hernwas also a gifted self-publicist who throvernon opposition and defiance. Such a lifernleaves behind a mass of material for a biographerrnto manage. There is a largerncast of characters to be depicted. Therernare many settings to be described and understood,rnand many journeys to berntiaced. There are issues to be explainedrnand quarrels to be adjudicated. Abovernall, there is justice to be done to the manrnhimself, and to his achievement. Otherwise,rnwhy write another biography? — notrna trivial question, as it turns out.rnR.F. Foster is a successful Irish professorrnof history now teaching at Oxford,rnwhere he is Carroll Professor of Irish Historyrnand a fellow of Hertford College.rnThis is the first volume of his biographyrnof Yeats, taking Yeats from birth to thernverge of World War I, when he was nearlyrn50 years old. Foster tells us in his introductionrnthat he has written a historian’srnbiography, not a literary critic’s. Therndifference, as he explains it, is that a literaryrnbiographer would begin from Yeats’srnpoetry and devote himself to looking forrnits causes and reflections in the poet’srnlife, while the historian would simply beginrnat the beginning and work forward,rntreating the poetry as one of the manyrnthings Yeats did. Chronology is everything;rnand, as things turn out, the beautyrnof that principle from a critically-mindedrnbiographer’s point of view is that it so effectivelyrndismantles the poet’s own carefullyrnspliced and edited accounts of hisrnlife. To give an example everyone familiarrnwith Yeats’s poetry will recognize:rnMaud Gonne, as she appears in Yeats’srnThe Sage Henrn(for Katherine V. Murphy)rnby Timothy MurphyrnTo slake her fledglings’ thirstrnshe dowsed her downy breastrnand flew through blowing dustrnfrom the river to her nest.rnNow she is distiessed,rnalways dreading the worstrnfor the flighty brood she nursedrnbecause we do not nest.rnDECEMBER 1997/33rnrnrn