ISBN 13: 9780060985042
Publication Date: 2000
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William Butter Yeats, who some critics feel was the greatest English language poet of our century, led a life of many contradictions. He was Ireland's most revered writer and won the Nobel Prize for Literature. But in his private life, Yeats struggled with passionate, if unrequited, relationships with women and was haunted by the spirits of his ancestors. Renowned biographer Brenda Maddox examines the poet's life through the prism of his personal obsession with the supernatural and otherworldly. She considers for the first time the Automatic Script, the trancelike communication with supposed spirits that he and his much younger wife. Georgie, conducted during the early years of their marriage. Writing with edge, wit, and energy, she finds the essential clues to Yeats's life and work in his unusual relationships with women, most particularly Maude and Iseult Gonne, his wife Georgie, and his rarely discussed mother.
"Maddox weaves a racy story filled with humor and perspicacity....[and] gives a multilayered picture of this complex man....By concentrating on what might seem the more secular matters, Maddox's book makes us reflect on the staggering contrast between Yeats's life and his poetry, between his conscious and his unconscious, on the disparity between a mind that brooded on Leda's mystery yet pitched love's 'mansion in the place of excrement.'"
Edna O'Brien, New Yorker, 09/27/1999Review:
"Maddox is a brave and stern interrogator of the imposing Yeats, as well as a scrupulous, exacting and well-qualified one....[She] knows her way around modernism's bedchambers and psychic inner sanctums as well as anybody....What unfolds here from [her] original speculation on Yeats' family psychodrama is an intriguing blow-by-blow of 'the devastation of his relations with women.'....'The foul rag and bone shop of the heart,' famous emblem of hard-won realism in Yeats' late poetry, here takes on a human face, and it's not pretty. Maddox is an adroit biographer, with a real gift for the readable orchestration of facts to a purpose and the good sense to deliver her best material in a dry, understated tone....Maddox's Yeats-as-damaged-son, forever 'torn by primitive jealousies he had long fought to bury,' keeps returning in these pages to haunt his dealings with the women and the persistent ghosts in his life. Before Brenda Maddox's book, that misty double-dealing was never seen quite so plain."
Tom Clark, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, 10/31/1999
Yeats's Ghosts: Search Results
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