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