MAD, BAD, DANGER­OUS TO KNOW: THE FA­THERS OF WILDE, YEATS AND JOYCE

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Colm Tóibín pen­guin/Vik­ing Orig­i­nally a se­ries of lec­tures, Tóibín’s en­joy­able book ex­am­ines the re­la­tion­ships be­tween three lit­er­ary gi­ants and their fa­thers. Af­ter an en­ter­tain­ing Dublin lit­er­ary stroll, we meet Wilde’s poly­math fa­ther Wil­liam, plagued by a sex scan­dal, just as his son would be.

The im­pe­cu­nious painter John But­ler Yeats, mean­while, wasn’t above touch­ing his son WB for a few quid. The poet de­spaired at his fa­ther’s in­abil­ity to fin­ish work, but the let­ters sent home from his ex­ile in New York pro­vided in­spi­ra­tion to the younger Yeats. Else­where, Tóibín ar­gues that James Joyce went into ex­ile to es­cape his fa­ther as much as Ire­land, although he painted a sym­pa­thetic por­trait in Ulysses.

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