Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know
From Colm Tóibín, 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 Tóibín 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, Tóibín recounts the resistance to English cultural domination, the birth of modern Irish cultural identity, and the extraordinary contributions of these complex and masterful authors.

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know Details

TitleMad, Bad, Dangerous to Know
Author
ReleaseOct 30th, 2018
PublisherScribner
ISBN-139781476785172
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Cultural, Ireland, Biography, Criticism, Literary Criticism, European Literature, Irish Literature

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know Review

  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    From BBC radio 4 - Book of the week:The award winning writer Colm Tóibín reads from his new book about the fathers of Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats and James Joyce. In today's episode Tóibín takes a literary walk around Dublin, stopping off at a variety of landmarks immortalised in the works of some of Ireland's most famous writers. At the same time he reflects on his own writing life.The award winning writer Colm Tóibín explores the complex relationships between three of Ireland's literary giants an From BBC radio 4 - Book of the week:The award winning writer Colm Tóibín reads from his new book about the fathers of Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats and James Joyce. In today's episode Tóibín takes a literary walk around Dublin, stopping off at a variety of landmarks immortalised in the works of some of Ireland's most famous writers. At the same time he reflects on his own writing life.The award winning writer Colm Tóibín explores the complex relationships between three of Ireland's literary giants and their fathers From Oscar Wilde's polymath father who was a doctor specialising in diseases of the eye and ear; an amateur architect, as well as a statistician who was knighted for his work; to W.B. Yeats' father a brilliant correspondent and impoverish artist who struggled to complete a painting; to John Stanislaus Joyce, a drinker and story-teller who was unwilling to provide for his family.Book of the Week looks at the lives of William Wilde and John B. Yeats and uncovers the ways in which their influence emerges in the works of their famous sons.Episode 1 of 5Colm Tóibín takes a literary walk around Dublin.Episode 2 of 5Colm Tóibín is in Oscar Wilde's cell at Reading gaol reflecting on the writer's father.Episode 3 of 5Colm Tóibín on two court cases, one involving William Wilde, the second his son, OscarEpisode 4 of 5Colm Tóibín turns his gaze to the life of John B Yeats, father of poet WB Yeats.Episode 5 of 5Colm Tóibín on the eternal youth of John B Yeats, father of literary giant WB Yeats.Abridged by Richard HamiltonProduced by Elizabeth Allardhttps://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000...https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/bo...
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  • Bettie☯
    January 1, 1970
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000...Description: The award winning writer Colm Tóibín explores the complex relationships between three of Ireland's literary giants and their fathers From Oscar Wilde's polymath father who was a doctor specialising in diseases of the eye and ear; an amateur architect, as well as a statistician who was knighted for his work; to W.B. Yeats' father a brilliant correspondent and impoverish artist who struggled to complete a painting; to John Stanislaus Joyce, a dr https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000...Description: The award winning writer Colm Tóibín explores the complex relationships between three of Ireland's literary giants and their fathers From Oscar Wilde's polymath father who was a doctor specialising in diseases of the eye and ear; an amateur architect, as well as a statistician who was knighted for his work; to W.B. Yeats' father a brilliant correspondent and impoverish artist who struggled to complete a painting; to John Stanislaus Joyce, a drinker and story-teller who was unwilling to provide for his family.1/5: In today's episode Tóibín takes a literary walk around Dublin, stopping off at a variety of landmarks immortalised in the works of some of Ireland's most famous writers. At the same time he reflects on his own writing life.
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  • Margaret Sankey
    January 1, 1970
    Originally given as lectures, these are vivid essays not just on the father-son relationships that formed the work of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce, but also about the precariously positioned knowledge middle class of 19th and early 20th century Ireland and the closely knit families who tried to parlay wealth or professional status into political leverage and recognition from the larger Anglosphere while remaining Irish.
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  • David Wineberg
    January 1, 1970
    You might expect that three great Irish writers, growing up in Dublin in the same era, might have some commonalities, some insight into genius or at least talent. Colm Toibin looks at their fathers in Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know to find that is as far from the truth as can be. The writers are Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats and James Joyce. Their fathers were a knighted workaholic, an irresponsible, romantic dreamer and a horrific, spendthrift drunk, respectively.Wilde’s father Will was pre You might expect that three great Irish writers, growing up in Dublin in the same era, might have some commonalities, some insight into genius or at least talent. Colm Toibin looks at their fathers in Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know to find that is as far from the truth as can be. The writers are Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats and James Joyce. Their fathers were a knighted workaholic, an irresponsible, romantic dreamer and a horrific, spendthrift drunk, respectively.Wilde’s father Will was precocious. By his mid-twenties he was not only a medical doctor, but an archaeologist, and a recognized statistician. His knighthood came from his reorganizing and managing the Irish census, way beyond requirements or expectations. He was always doing numerous things at once, and evenings were spent hosting the political, scientific and artistic glitterati of Europe at their home facing Merrion Park in Dublin.Oscar Wilde, on the other hand, was better known as a clever guest at those kinds of soirées. His writing reflected none of the deep analysis and discipline his father routinely demonstrated. There appears to be little connection between them or their lives.John Yeats was a lost soul. He wrote exceptionally good letters, but never published a shelf of books. He wanted to paint, and was so meticulous and demanding of himself that he never seemed to finish a canvas. He would scrape and repaint a landscape as the seasons changed. His self-portrait, his masterwork, took him seven years not to finish. An uninspired if not damaging father of four, he didn’t realize how blocked he was until he left Dublin for New York, late in life. He thought that the (horse) streetcars of New York were “the nearest thing to heaven on Earth he had ever known.” He believed himself “a formidable institution of higher learning in his own right”, and had little desire to expose his sons to competition. It was all about him.William Butler Yeats was a much deeper thinker, and obviously, far more successful. Of his father he said: “Far more than any man I ever known he could live in the happiness of the passing moment. “James Joyce’s father was such a negative inspiration, Toibin says, that Joyce would not have been blamed had he used the character of the abusive drunk in everything he ever wrote. But he didn’t. Instead, he says, Joyce inhabited the character and let him explore his life and universe, allowing him a much richer vibrant experience than the one he actually lived. James Joyce left quickly and managed to avoid returning to Dublin ever again, and never saw his father again. John Stanislaus Joyce inspired a lot of Ulysses in the character of Simon Dedalus (“The spittin’ image” of his father, Joyce declared).Only Joyce employed his father in any involved sense. They all could be said to be relieved when their fathers were gone. Joyce, who had the hardest time with his father, wrote that he regretted their relationship after his son was born and his father had died. But his father provided a springboard to literary fame, along with that other wellspring of character, Dublin itself.Toibin, no slouch in the interpretation of all things Irish himself, draws no hard conclusions. He did the research in original letters, leaving the reader to decide how the fathers affected the development of the sons. It’s a short book, but a neat and neatly executed concept.David Wineberg
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  • The Bookish Hooker
    January 1, 1970
    Mad, Bad, Dangerous To Know is a collection of lectures given by Colm Toibin on three famous Irish writers, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde. and the roles their fathers played in shaping their lives and careers. I chose to read this book because I have always loved Oscar Wilde and was interested in finding out more about him and his family life. The book is actually so much more than just a historical essay on the authors, though. It really encompasses Irish culture, their relationship Mad, Bad, Dangerous To Know is a collection of lectures given by Colm Toibin on three famous Irish writers, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde. and the roles their fathers played in shaping their lives and careers. I chose to read this book because I have always loved Oscar Wilde and was interested in finding out more about him and his family life. The book is actually so much more than just a historical essay on the authors, though. It really encompasses Irish culture, their relationship with England, and the history of art and writing in that environment. The introduction was extremely well written and featured an account of the wanderings of the author through the historically rich streets of Dublin. I found this section fascinating as it really set the stage for what was to come. Personal letters, both to and from the three writers and their fathers, and accounts left behind by contemporaries gave the sections dedicated to the individual writers an unexpected depth. Talking about a subject is one thing, but seeing their experiences through their own words was an added bonus. I really was able to feel Colm Toibin's love for the Irish country, people, and art through this book. In a few instances, the author made mention of a historical event or person, perhaps under the assumption that these would be well known outside of Ireland or literary circles, with little or no explanation of what they were. It left me to Google these points, which interrupted the flow of the book. These were easy to overlook, though, as the overall book was great.Thank you to the publisher, Scribner, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book. It was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Rae
    January 1, 1970
    If you love Irish literature and history, you are sure to love this book. Colm Tóibín's newest book is a compilation based on lectures he gave on the topic of three literary giants' fathers and families. Tóibín delves into the lineage of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and W. B. Yeats and paints a picture of 19th century Dublin through their fathers. Tóibín's analyses are engagingly written and researched to give an enigmatic, full portrayal of artistic life in Dublin. William Wilde, John Stanislaus J If you love Irish literature and history, you are sure to love this book. Colm Tóibín's newest book is a compilation based on lectures he gave on the topic of three literary giants' fathers and families. Tóibín delves into the lineage of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and W. B. Yeats and paints a picture of 19th century Dublin through their fathers. Tóibín's analyses are engagingly written and researched to give an enigmatic, full portrayal of artistic life in Dublin. William Wilde, John Stanislaus Joyce, and John Butler Yeats come alive in this book as Tóibín delves into their triumphs and failings. These men have their own professional and artistic wonders, which are allowed to shine. Further, the author shows the interaction between father and son, and how the son's work was shaped by their particular upbringing. A truly fascinating read, and highly recommended to fans of Wilde, Joyce, and Yeats, and fans of engaging history. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an e-copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Kristine
    January 1, 1970
    Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know by Colm Toibin is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early October.Yay, my first Colm Toibin non-fiction and about the fathers of Wilde (William), Yeats (John Butler) and Joyce (John Stanislaus), no less. Toibin does research while walking through areas in Dublin that still speak volumes about the personal lives of these authors and their fathers, even reading De Profundis in Wilde's cell in Reading Gaol. He describes William Wilde as a great, musing traveler after Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know by Colm Toibin is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early October.Yay, my first Colm Toibin non-fiction and about the fathers of Wilde (William), Yeats (John Butler) and Joyce (John Stanislaus), no less. Toibin does research while walking through areas in Dublin that still speak volumes about the personal lives of these authors and their fathers, even reading De Profundis in Wilde's cell in Reading Gaol. He describes William Wilde as a great, musing traveler after years as an ear & eye doctor and knighted for contributing to the Irish census, yet plagued by slanderous pamphlets for his former ward, Mary Travers; John Butler Yeats as a storyteller or 'talker' and "the painter who scrapes out every day what he painted the day before” before moving to New York in 1907, still relying on his son's dime to keep himself afloat; James Joyce and Stanislaus admiring their father, John, yet staying away from him and writing about their lives in their father’s household, while he was sometimes steady, other times drunk and prone to violence.
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  • Jojo
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting approach to understanding the three better known artists through focus on their fathers.
  • Nicki Markus
    January 1, 1970
    Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know is a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys the works of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce. Tóibín casts a keen eye over the figures of their fathers, offering us a biography of their lives and a close look at the influence they exerted over their famous sons, whether personal or literary. At under 200 pages, it is a quick little read, but no less insightful for its brevity. I also learnt a few things I hadn't known about Ireland in the Victorian era. This is probably not going Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know is a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys the works of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce. Tóibín casts a keen eye over the figures of their fathers, offering us a biography of their lives and a close look at the influence they exerted over their famous sons, whether personal or literary. At under 200 pages, it is a quick little read, but no less insightful for its brevity. I also learnt a few things I hadn't known about Ireland in the Victorian era. This is probably not going to mean so much to those unfamiliar with Wilde, Yeats and Joyce; however, for the established fans, this work offers an interesting 'behind-the-scenes' glimpse at their lives and influences.I received this book as a free ARC from the publisher.
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