The Gonne-Yeats letters 1893-1938 /

Main Author: Gonne, Maud, 1866-1953.
Other Authors: White, Anna MacBride., Jeffares, A. Norman 1920-, Yeats, W. B. 1865-1939.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Norton, 1993.
Edition: 1st American ed.
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Review by Choice Review

Valuable both as a documented view of the Irish struggle for freedom and as an anecdotal history of the Abbey Theatre, this book presents a background against which the highly complicated emotional relationships of Yeats's "Helen of Troy" and Yeats himself were played out. In the first introduction Anna MacBride White (grandchild of Maud Gonne's son, John MacBride) recalls wonderful memories from her childhood when "Madame," as Maud was known in her last years, resided in Anna's English country home. In his essay Jeffares (author of two Yeats biographies) gives a helpful account, illustrated with lyrics, of the worlds of this famous couple, the woman's larger because of her travels for the Irish cause. Maud writes to her sister, Kathleen, that "as for Willie Yeats I love him dearly as a friend but I could not for one minute imagine marrying him." The dust jacket shows two portraits of Maud; in both she seems unconscious of the artist standing behind her whose work she so admired. Meant for a popular readership as the simple bibliography here indicates, this hefty collection may even so be more useful to academics than an explication de texte approach because of the new facts and the study aids it offers. It pictures well a great-hearted apostle for social justice, who (re Yeats and Ireland) remained always true to the Gonne family motto, "Enduring and Hoping." B. Quinn; formerly, College of Saint Teresa

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This very interesting collection documents the lengthy platonic love affair between Irish poet and dramatist William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) and Irish nationalist Maude Gonne (1865-1953), which began when both were in their 20s and lasted until Yeats's death--despite Gonne's 1903 marriage to and subsequent divorce from John MacBride. Jeffares ( W. B. Yeats: Man and Poet ) and Gonne's granddaughter White have edited and supplied introductory material for the letters, most written by Gonne to Yeats. Principal subjects include the couple's mutual interest in mysticism, the Irish literary revival, their political differences (she was an activist committed to Irish independence at any price; he was a moderate) and their ``spiritual marriage''p27 --Gonne, who disliked sexual love, repeatedly turned down Yeats's offers of a more conventional union. The collection provides primary source material for Irish and literary historians. ( Dec. ) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

This correspondence, which began when Gonne was 22 and Yeats was 23 and ended with his death, includes 373 of her letters but only 30 of his since most of his were destroyed in the Irish Civil War. They are superbly edited, with complete notes identifying people and incidents likely to be unfamiliar to current readers. The introduction and connecting material provide biographical information and explain the circumstances in which the letters were written. Though Gonne was unwilling to marry Yeats, and they often disagreed on Irish politics, she was a significant influence on his poetry. These letters are valuable for their insights into her character, her relationship with Yeats, and Irish history during this period. Highly recommended, particularly for academic libraries.-- Judy Mimken, Saginaw Valley State Univ., Mich. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

With only 29 Yeats letters to Maud Gonne extant (the others were destroyed in the Irish Civil War), and 373 of hers to him, this is hardly a two-way exhibition--and you have to have a great taste for either Celtic myth, occultism, progressive Irish politics, or the plight of a gorgeous, plucky woman to stay fully involved here. Gonne was a lifelong enchantment upon Yeats, drawing him to her like a moth to flame--and her allure certainly depended as much upon her beauty and poise as her mysticism (her third letter to him begins, ``My dear Mr Yeats, Have you been having any occult work or visions in which I have been in any way mixed within the last week?'') and her insistence on a ``spiritual'' but not physical marriage between them. The more she told Yeats not to love her, the more the poor guy naturally did. Gonne herself was a little more than a dilettante: politically fearless if excessive, an actress, an impresario, an editor--never quite the wisp that her occultism recommended herself to be. Yeats wrote great poem after great poem to her, and thus she qualified as one of the sterling muses of history. She knew it, too: In one letter she writes, ``Our children were your poems of which I was the Father sowing the unrest & storm which made them possible & you the mother who brought them forth in suffering & in the highest beauty & our children had wings--.'' Too lopsided to be of general interest, but Yeatsians will lap it up. (Photographs.)

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.