Yeats's Ghosts: The Secret Life of W.B. Yeats

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Harper Collins, Sep 19, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 528 pages
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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.

 

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Contents

Parti
3
Counting MarcfjMay 1917
24
Motfar or Daugfjter AugustSeptember 1917
47
Part 2
57
fofa a Deux NovemSerDecemfar 1917
73
An Adventure JanuaryHtfarcfj 1918
94
Wfjat Rougfj Beast? Marcfj wiSfrfruary 1919
108
Onfy One More 9larcfj 1919May 1920
135
Po itics andPotency 19221928 215
251
TJjis1sBagfjdatprii934Decembtri935
277
Sucfj friends Aprih937January 1938
330
A Woringyear January i9383anuary 28 1939
352
Laid to Rest?
383
Abbreviations and Short Forms
397
Bibliography
447
Index
461

Waiting for J B May 1920Jufy 1922
163
Part3
189

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Popular passages

Page 218 - Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing, But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make Of hammered gold and gold enamelling To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; Or set upon a golden bough to sing To lords and ladies of Byzantium Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
Page 372 - Those masterful images because complete Grew in pure mind, but out of what began? A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street, Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can, Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone, I must lie down where all the ladders start, In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.
Page 132 - Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
Page 238 - We against whom you have done this thing are no petty people. We are one of the great stocks of Europe. We are the people of Burke; we are the people of Grattan; we are the people of Swift, the people of Emmet, the people of Parnell. We have created the most of the modern literature of this country. We have created the best of its political intelligence.
Page 143 - An intellectual hatred is the worst, So let her think opinions are accursed. Have I not seen the loveliest woman born Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn, Because of her opinionated mind Barter that horn and every good By quiet natures understood For an old bellows full of angry wind?
Page 116 - A lonely impulse of delight Drove to this tumult in the clouds; I balanced all, brought all to mind, The years to come seemed waste of breath, A waste of breath the years behind In balance with this life, this death.
Page 50 - Was it needless death after all? For England may keep faith For all that is done and said. We know their dream; enough To know they dreamed and are dead; And what if excess of love Bewildered them till they died? I write it out in a verse — MacDonagh and MacBride And Connolly and Pearse Now and in time to be, Wherever green is worn, Are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.

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About the author (2000)

Brenda Maddox is an award-winning biographer whose work has been translated into ten languages. Nora: A Biography of Nora Joyce, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Silver PEN Award, and the French Prix du Mailleur Livre Etranger. Her life of D. H. Lawrence won the Whitbread Biography Award in 1974, and Yeats's Ghosts, on the married life of W. B. Yeats, was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 1998. She has been Home Affairs Editor for the Economist, has served as chairman of the Association of British Science Writers and is a member of the Royal Society's Science and Society Committee. She lives in London and Mid-Wales.

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