Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know : The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce
by Colm Toibin


Overview - From Colm T ib n, the formidable award-winning author of The Master and Brooklyn , an illuminating, intimate study of Irish culture, history, and literature told through the lives and work of three men--William Wilde, John Butler Yeats, and John Stanislaus Joyce--and the complicated, influential relationships they had with their complicated sons.  Read more...

 
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More About Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know by Colm Toibin
 
 
 
Overview
From Colm T ib n, the formidable award-winning author of The Master and Brooklyn, an illuminating, intimate study of Irish culture, history, and literature told through the lives and work of three men--William Wilde, John Butler Yeats, and John Stanislaus Joyce--and the complicated, influential relationships they had with their complicated sons.

Colm T ib n begins his incisive, revelatory Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know with a walk through the Dublin streets where he went to university--a wide-eyed boy from the country--and where three Irish literary giants also came of age. Oscar Wilde, writing about his relationship with his father, William Wilde, stated: "Whenever there is hatred between two people there is bond or brotherhood of some kind...you loathed each other not because you were so different but because you were so alike." W.B. Yeats wrote of his father, John Butler Yeats, a painter: "It is this infirmity of will which has prevented him from finishing his pictures. The qualities I think necessary to success in art or life seemed to him egotism." John Stanislaus Joyce, James's father, was perhaps the most quintessentially Irish, widely loved, garrulous, a singer, and drinker with a volatile temper, who drove his son from Ireland.

Elegant, profound, and riveting, Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know illuminates not only the complex relationships between three of the greatest writers in the English language and their fathers, but also illustrates the surprising ways these men surface in their work. Through these stories of fathers and sons, T ib n recounts the resistance to English cultural domination, the birth of modern Irish cultural identity, and the extraordinary contributions of these complex and masterful authors.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781476785172
  • ISBN-10: 1476785171
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company
  • Publish Date: October 2018
  • Page Count: 272
  • Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Literary Collections > Essays
Books > Literary Collections > European - English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Cultural, Ethnic & Regional - General

 
BookPage Reviews

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know

Ireland is a small country, and it seemed even smaller a hundred-some years ago when giants of literature roamed the narrow Dublin streets, routinely crossing paths and sharing friends, social connections and antagonists. As novelist and critic Colm Tóibín walks the neighborhood south of the River Liffey, where he has lived since his student days, he draws connecting lines between shared locations haunted not only by three of the greatest writers his nation has produced—Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats and James Joyce—but by their fathers as well. William Wilde, John Butler Yeats and John Stanislaus Joyce were three very different men, yet they shared more than the streets around Merrion Square. Each sired a literary genius and possessed formidable, and in some cases unfulfilled, talents. And these fathers all came to influence their sons’ work in varying ways.

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know offers richly drawn portraits of these fathers and sons, illuminating the influence rippling between generations. While Oscar Wilde may have inherited his sharp wit from his mother, William Wilde was a doctor, influential amateur archaeologist and writer whose hubris-laced court case involving alleged sexual indiscretions offered an eerie premonition of what would befall his son. John B. Yeats was a talented painter cursed with an inability to finish a canvas. His escape to New York to live out his life (funded by his son) did not preclude his voice permeating some of his son’s seminal poetry. Joyce’s father, a drunkard and raconteur, infiltrates Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses at every turn, as Joyce probes their complicated relationship, “evoking its shivering ambiguities, combining the need to be generous with the need to be true.”

As charming as it is illuminating, Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know provides a singular look at an extraordinary confluence of genius.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
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