John O'Meara

Shakespearean, neo-Romantic critic

John O'Meara Shakespeare Shakespearean Romanticism Literary Critic Novalis

The Author in a Second Stage


The middle and third parts of John O’Meara’s Shakespeare trilogy had elaborated on an approach to Shakespeare inspired by the revelations of Rudolf Steiner. They were accompanied by an edition of Steiner’s work that especially highlights his relevance for the development of Romantic thought. This edition appeared in 2007 as The Thinking Spirit: Rudolf Steiner and Romantic Theory.


The other Romantic authors featured in this edition are S.T. Coleridge, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Goethe, and Novalis. The work of these authors is seen as falling into line with Steiner’s further elaboration of Romantic thought in the modern era.

By this stage, John O’Meara had come to champion a Romanticist view also of the modern and postmodern eras, which he sees as dead-ends. Only a continuation of the Romantic tradition can see us through the impasse of Imagination that he associates with these eras. In this next stage, O’Meara turned his attention more broadly to Romantic and post-Romantic literature, illustrating his view of the modern “impasse” in greater detail. In The Modern Debacle (2007), he offers close readings of the work of numerous modern authors.  In this book, O’Meara brings out the further appeal that is made by these authors for an imagination of the Goddess as a means of generating the kind of creative activity that can lead us out of  the “debacle”. Then, in Myth, Depravity, Impasse: Graves, Shakespeare, Keats (2008, rpt. 2011), John O’Meara looks deeper into literary tradition to re-assess the significance of recourse to the Goddess as saving power especially as advocated by Graves and by Hughes. In this book O’Meara applies his knowledge of Shakespeare’s own affiliation with his Goddess to the modern perspectives of these two representative authors. Shakespeare is viewed as a model of investigation in this regard, at once more successful and more comprehensive by virtue of his deeper acknowledgment of the compromising influence of human depravity in this investigation. The modern “impasse” is featured again, prophetically, in the final section on Keats, whose own attempts to unite with the creative power of the Goddess were dissipated by the modern tendencies in his work.  


After The Modern Debacle, and Myth, Depravity, Impasse, John O’Meara brought out This Life, This Death: Wordsworth’s Poetic Destiny in 2010. Together these three new books constituted O’Meara’s second trilogy. In the first two parts he had already noted the close association between an imagination of the Goddess and the creative power of Nature: the Goddess as Nature. The three studies were soon collected in 2012 under the title On Nature and the Goddess in Romantic and post-Romantic Literature.