This essay has two major goals. Its general aim is to join the growing body of scholarship that takes Stephen King’s work seriously as literature in its own right and in conversation with other, traditionally canonical, works. This essay specifically does so by examining the apparent, though unreferenced, influence of William Butler Yeats’s poems “The Tower” and “The Black Tower” on King’s longest, strangest, most challenging and most self-referential work—the Dark Tower series. King references Yeats elsewhere in his fiction, and a rich, non-linear intertextuality connects the Dark Tower series to much of the rest of King’s work. Taking this connection as a structure for analysis begins a fruitful search for Yeats’s influence in the Dark Tower novels and for a broader notion of literary influences on King’s work. There has been some past critical discussion of King’s use of Yeats; this essay also seeks to continue that work.
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