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, Biography, History, Cultural, Ireland, European Literature, Irish Literature, Biography Memoir

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know Review

  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    This book had its origins in lectures given by the author at Emory University a little over one year ago, or November 2017. I was drawn to reading this book after reading review by author Adrian McKinty. I was richly rewarded by following this lead and highly recommend this book to all interested in Irish literature.I could write a book enumerating all the nuggets of information and insights included in this scholarly effort, so I will not try.
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  • 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.2/5: Tóibín is in Oscar Wilde's cell at Reading gaol where he is reflecting on the life and influence of William Wilde, the great writer's father.3/5: William Wilde is engulfed in a court case which, strangely, foreshadows the famous trial which had such devastating consequences for his son, Oscar, some thirty years later.4/5: Tóibín's gaze turns to John B. Yeats, father of the literary giant, W.B. Yeats. It turns out that the brilliant conversationalist and impoverished artist was a source of exasperation, but also of inspiration to his son, and here Tóibín tells us why.5/5: Tóibín turns to the romantic and occasionally erotic correspondence between John B. Yeats and Rosa Butt, when the pair were in their sixties. He then reflects on the influence that the father's boyish romance had on the writings of his son, the literary giant W. B. Yeats.1877 caricature of Queensberry in Vanity Fair.Rosa Butt | John Butler Yeats | oil painting
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  • Gustavo Offely
    January 1, 1970
    A relação entre pais e filhos sempre me interessou em literatura (suponho que também seja interessante na realidade, mas nunca testei essa hipótese). Tóibín consegue, com excelente literatura, criar interesse na vida privada de três figuras paternas. Achei John B. Yeats a figura paterna mais interessante. Ele foi um pintor não falhado, mas cujo sucesso foi adiado ad vitam. Fez do charme a sua primeira arte. Passou os seus últimos anos a pintar o seu auto-retrato e a escrever belíssimas cartas. O A relação entre pais e filhos sempre me interessou em literatura (suponho que também seja interessante na realidade, mas nunca testei essa hipótese). Tóibín consegue, com excelente literatura, criar interesse na vida privada de três figuras paternas. Achei John B. Yeats a figura paterna mais interessante. Ele foi um pintor não falhado, mas cujo sucesso foi adiado ad vitam. Fez do charme a sua primeira arte. Passou os seus últimos anos a pintar o seu auto-retrato e a escrever belíssimas cartas. O auto-retrato ficou feito nas cartas; a pintura ficou por acabar.
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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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  • Barry
    January 1, 1970
    Once again I’ve made a mistake in understanding my own interests. I’m not sure what fooled me into thinking I would appreciate this book. It seems to be written for someone who is more than just passingly familiar with the works of Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce. I’ve enjoyed the handful of Wilde that I’ve read, but although I enjoyed “The Dead” and “A Portrait of an Artist as A Young Man,” I’ve never read Ulysses or Finnegan’s Wake. And frankly, I have no interest in the poetry of Yeats. Why would I e Once again I’ve made a mistake in understanding my own interests. I’m not sure what fooled me into thinking I would appreciate this book. It seems to be written for someone who is more than just passingly familiar with the works of Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce. I’ve enjoyed the handful of Wilde that I’ve read, but although I enjoyed “The Dead” and “A Portrait of an Artist as A Young Man,” I’ve never read Ulysses or Finnegan’s Wake. And frankly, I have no interest in the poetry of Yeats. Why would I even pick this up? Perhaps I thought that I would learn something interesting about Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce. But no, it’s really about their fathers, and the strained, or even antagonistic relationships between the fathers and their famous sons. It seems that Toibin believes that the dysfunctional relationships between the fathers and sons somehow stimulated the sons to become great artists. I’m not sure that I completely accept the premise, but if great artists are cast only through the fiery crucible of traumatic childhoods, then I guess I can only hope that through love and grace I may deprive my sons of the opportunity to become great artists. I would prefer that they become good men rather than famous men. And furthermore, I am grateful that I was blessed with a godly father who was, and still is, a great example to admire and emulate.
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  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful, compelling, and glowing throughout with the brilliance and humanity of the author and his subjects. I will reread this book and also return to the works of Wilde, Yeats, and, particularly, Joyce, whose father—I now know—lives and breathes in the pages of his novels.
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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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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    Picked this book up in the library. I have always enjoyed Irish literature and finding out about the fathers and their influences on James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Y.B Yeats. It was a fascinating insight with Wilde’s father William a successful doctor, archeologist and statistician. Years father an unsuccessful artist in his lifetime and Joyce’s father a larger than life character who Joyce used throughout his books. Well worth a read.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    This book was conceived by Toibin after giving a series of well-received lectures on the topic of the father and son relationships of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce. I have to admit, it was the title that drew me in to reading it. This book is extremely well researched with quotes and letters annotated on just about every page. That detail made the book seem to be more of a college thesis paper rather than a typical book of non-fiction. That being said, these fathers were an odd bunch and their stories This book was conceived by Toibin after giving a series of well-received lectures on the topic of the father and son relationships of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce. I have to admit, it was the title that drew me in to reading it. This book is extremely well researched with quotes and letters annotated on just about every page. That detail made the book seem to be more of a college thesis paper rather than a typical book of non-fiction. That being said, these fathers were an odd bunch and their stories would typify a Lifetime Channel movie. This book has it all..it is the story of stalkers, of libel court cases, of drunken cruelty, of moochers, of delusions of grandeur, of strange infatuations and of infidelity but it is NOT the story of pride in the accomplishments of their own children (although the "children" had their own issues!).
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know, the fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce is, as you would expect from Colm Tóibín, beautifully written— but whether it’s a book for you might depend on how interested you are in Wilde, Yeats and Joyce.Now I am an unabashed enthusiast for everything Joyce has written and you can find plenty of evidence for that in the hours of my life that I have spent not only reading his books as a student, but also blogging my adventures with Ulysses, with Finnegans Wake, and a repr Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know, the fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce is, as you would expect from Colm Tóibín, beautifully written— but whether it’s a book for you might depend on how interested you are in Wilde, Yeats and Joyce.Now I am an unabashed enthusiast for everything Joyce has written and you can find plenty of evidence for that in the hours of my life that I have spent not only reading his books as a student, but also blogging my adventures with Ulysses, with Finnegans Wake, and a reprise of my love of Dubliners. So I loved reading about the father of James Joyce, and his various manifestations in Ulysses, especially since Joyce had a generous view of his father’s undoubted failings.By contrast, Stanilaus Joyce, James’ brother, has nothing good to say of his father’s fecklessness and abusive behaviour in his books My Brother’s Keeper (1958) and The Complete Dublin Diary of Stanislaus Joyce (1971).My father was still in his early forties, a man who had received a university education and had never known a day’s illness. But though he had a large family of young children, he was quite unburdened by any sense of responsibility towards them. His pension, which could have taken in part the place of the property he had lost and been a substantial addition to an earned income, became his and our only means of subsistence. (p.166)He is domineering and quarrelsome and has in an unusual degree that low, voluble abusiveness characteristic of Cork people when drunk… He is lying and hypocritical. He regards himself as the victim of circumstances and pays himself with words. His will is dissipated and his intellect besotted, and he has become a crazy drunkard. He is spiteful like all drunkards who are thwarted, and invents the most cowardly insults that a scandalous mind and a naturally derisive tongue can suggest. (p. 167)But James Joyce was magnanimous, partly but not entirely because he was at a distance in Trieste. He wrote to his benefactor Harriet Weaver:I was very fond of him always, being a sinner myself, and even liked his faults. Hundreds of pages and scores of characters in my books came from him… I got from him his portraits, a waistcoat, a good tenor voice, and an extravagant licentious disposition (out of which, however, the greater part of any talent I may have springs) but, apart from these, something else I cannot define. (p.173.)The chapter about Joyce’s father, despite his manifest faults, is a pleasure to read because Tóibín considers at some length the ways in which Joyce pays homage in his fiction to this flawed father.To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/11/20/m...
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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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  • Peggy
    January 1, 1970
    I would probably have enjoyed this a lot more about 20 years ago when my readings of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce were much fresher in my mind. I still discovered some information I didn't know, but the writing is very impressionistic in style rather than straightforward biography. It's quite readable, but at the same time confusing because Toibin seems to be writing under the assumption that everyone is as familiar as he is with the people, events and texts he refers to. So, it's a good read for some I would probably have enjoyed this a lot more about 20 years ago when my readings of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce were much fresher in my mind. I still discovered some information I didn't know, but the writing is very impressionistic in style rather than straightforward biography. It's quite readable, but at the same time confusing because Toibin seems to be writing under the assumption that everyone is as familiar as he is with the people, events and texts he refers to. So, it's a good read for someone up to date on late 19th century-early 20th century Irish studies and authors. That's not me, so I found the most compelling bit to be when Toibin quoted Stephen's mother in _A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man_: "Stephen read out the essay to her slowly and emphatically and when he had finished reading she said it was very beautifully written but that as there some things in it which she couldn't follow would he mind reading it to her again and explaining some of it." Yes! That's exactly what reading this book was like.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    This is really a series of lectures and more is the pity that my knowledge of the subject was not broad, nor deep enough to appreciate Toibin’s writing. Set in Dublin there is an expectation that the reader will be familiar with streets, people and events. Unfortunately I lack the knowledge and after fumbling through while I could appreciate the wry humor Toibin’s insight was lost on me.Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for a copy
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  • Christopher Jones
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this hugely ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ Loved this hugely ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent finish. I’m ready to read some Joyce, Wilde, and Yeats. Transport to Dublin would be welcome as well!
  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book utterly fascinating. It made me want to visit Dublin again. I understand so much more about the writers by getting to know their fathers. I understand why Oscar Wilde acted the way he did in his trial (that his arrogant brilliance left him above the law) and that trial of course led to his imprisonment and early death. So much of the way we are in life depends on how we are shown to be or taught to be in our families. Dublin is a major character in this book, seething with bril I found this book utterly fascinating. It made me want to visit Dublin again. I understand so much more about the writers by getting to know their fathers. I understand why Oscar Wilde acted the way he did in his trial (that his arrogant brilliance left him above the law) and that trial of course led to his imprisonment and early death. So much of the way we are in life depends on how we are shown to be or taught to be in our families. Dublin is a major character in this book, seething with brilliance in its small streets.
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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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  • 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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  • Micebyliz
    January 1, 1970
    This is very good. I was particularly interested in Yeats and especially Wilde. I'm not a big Joyce fan, although i am sure i am missing something :)i was amused about their various "dabblings" in archaeology, which sounded mostly historic. Why i didn't know that Yeats lived in and loved New York city is beyond me. It made me smile. He loved the crowds and the movement of humanity. He never went home and never saw his children again.
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  • Ivor Armistead
    January 1, 1970
    A well written, interesting and enjoyable exploration of the relationships between three “colorful” Irish fathers and their more famous sons. There are moments of brilliance, but some slow bits as well. For example, much more time was spent describing Yeats’s father’s years in New York and long distance romance than seemed necessary to me.
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  • Sharon McNeil
    January 1, 1970
    Enlightening! Written about the lives of three authors (W.B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce) and their fathers. My favorite was the "chapter" on James Joyce and John Stanislaus Joyce. Now, after all these years, I plan to tackle Ulysses.
  • Jojo
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting approach to understanding the three better known artists through focus on their fathers.
  • Todd Stockslager
    January 1, 1970
    Review title: Portraits of the fathers of tortured sons of DublinLike the trope of the sad comedian and the crying clown, the tortured artist is a stereotype sometimes proven by the reality. And in Dublin, a city where fantasy and history seem to blend seamlessly, life can be a tortured reality especially for these three sons of the city. Oscar Wilde, William B. Yeats, and James Joyce are among the literary giants of the 19th and early 20th century, and all were raised within a few blocks and a Review title: Portraits of the fathers of tortured sons of DublinLike the trope of the sad comedian and the crying clown, the tortured artist is a stereotype sometimes proven by the reality. And in Dublin, a city where fantasy and history seem to blend seamlessly, life can be a tortured reality especially for these three sons of the city. Oscar Wilde, William B. Yeats, and James Joyce are among the literary giants of the 19th and early 20th century, and all were raised within a few blocks and a few years of each other in the city of Dublin. Toibin, a modern Dublin author, has written this short joint biography of the three authors' fathers as a way to provide insight into the origins of the talent of their famous sons.Sir William Wilde (the title was Irish, not British) was one of those 19th century polymaths who seemed never to sleep--a doctor who established the first Irish eye and ear hospital, an archeologist, an Irish antiquarian, a census statistician whose 40-year career included compiling the vital mortality statistics of the Potato Famine, an author whose first published book was a travel book about a voyage around the Mediterranean. Never wealthy, he and his wife, an Irish revolutionary in her younger years who proudly preferred to be called by the honorific Lady Jane after her husband was knighted, bridged radical Irish independence and Victorian respectability with a certain shabby chic. Son Oscar came by his insouciance and free-flowing wit honestly.The elder Yeats was trained in the law but aspired to art and followed his dream, albeit with little financial or artistic recognition. He earned a reputation as a painter who would only paint subjects he liked even when a lucrative commission was at stake, and as a painter who could never finish a painting because of his attempt at perfection. His relationship with his wife was always strained, spilling over into sometimes contentious relations with their children, and after his wife died he went to New York in search of a commission with one of his daughters in 1907, he never returned to Dublin in his remaining 15 years. Toibin concludes that W. B. Yeats became a fastidious finisher of what he started in opposition to his father's failures to finish.And then there was John Stanislaus Joyce. While Toibin devotes the least number of pages to the fraught relation between he and his most famous son, it is perhaps only because the younger Joyce had already fileted that relationship with the tip of his pen in his deep and dark ramble though Dublin, Ulysses. What else is there left for anyone to really say? Father Joyce was a drunk, sometimes violent when at his worst; Toibin recounts an incident when he grabbed his wife by the throat with the growled threat to end her life which was only redeemed when the children separated them and one--not James--jumped him from behind in a choke hold that brought him down. When he lost his government job in his mid 40s because of poor performance and political policy changes, the parents and their 10 children began a spiral down through the ranks of economic and social status to smaller and dingier lodgings one step ahead of cheated and outraged landlords. Unlike the Yeats family, it was the younger Joyce who vacated Dublin to remove himself from the nightmarish family scenes, only to exorcise them most explicitly in his books.Dublin is a beautiful city. I have spent a total of four months working there in the last few years, and have walked many of the streets Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce walked. The Irish countryside, culture, and people are rich in history, tradition, language, and humor. It has bred a disproportionate number of great artists in all forms and formats. Not all of them suffered as much for their art, or lived as much of their art as these three writers. It isn't always pleasant reading but Toibin has shown how the sons reflected or refracted the uniquely beautiful Irish light that shown through their fathers' portraits.
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  • Frank Karioris
    January 1, 1970
    Book from Dan Hamilton, for our 2018 reading wager. Much thanks to him for such a wonderful book that hits so many of my favorite elements - Ireland, fathers/sons, and the wonderfulness of literature and how clearly Toibin's love for literature comes through. Truthfully, I don't know nearly enough about Yeats, Joyce, and Wilde's literature. I mean, as a general that is true; but in relation to this book it is extremely true. Toibin is so thoroughly ingrained in these people and their literatures Book from Dan Hamilton, for our 2018 reading wager. Much thanks to him for such a wonderful book that hits so many of my favorite elements - Ireland, fathers/sons, and the wonderfulness of literature and how clearly Toibin's love for literature comes through. Truthfully, I don't know nearly enough about Yeats, Joyce, and Wilde's literature. I mean, as a general that is true; but in relation to this book it is extremely true. Toibin is so thoroughly ingrained in these people and their literatures as to make one feel unread entirely. I've taken a university course on Years & Joyce, so its not as if I have no background at all. And yet, that is certainly a feeling at hand. The book is, more than anything else, biographies of the three fathers. The first two (Wilde and Yeats) are fascinating biography sort of chapters. The third (Joyce) veers more into analysis of Ulysses and how it relates to Joyce's real life - this chapter is, for me, the weakest. Not because Toibin doesn't have the chops to do the work - he absolutely does; but because thats not what I was expecting in the final 1/4 of the book.This feeling of being out of my depth is not the same way I feel when I read Kundera's essay - which make me feel as if I haven't read a single thing in my life. Toibin's depth is more concentrated here. He knows the lived lives of these people as if he had lived it alongside them.One of the core take-aways for me - an idiosyncratic one, to be sure - is just how connected worlds are - in this case, literary worlds. These fathers and sons all lived mere streets apart from each other. They shared neighbors and friends. The world works in small circles, and this is but another great example of that.
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  • Dorothy
    January 1, 1970
    Whether or not you believe that nature plays a greater role in determining a child's life, there is no doubt that a father wields a huge influence on his sons and daughters. Toibin examines the role played by the fathers of 3 of Ireland's greatest writers, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde. Toibin opens the book ( three separate essays) describing the streets and buildings of Dublin. He himself lived there when attending University, and the location figures largely in the work of these 3 m Whether or not you believe that nature plays a greater role in determining a child's life, there is no doubt that a father wields a huge influence on his sons and daughters. Toibin examines the role played by the fathers of 3 of Ireland's greatest writers, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde. Toibin opens the book ( three separate essays) describing the streets and buildings of Dublin. He himself lived there when attending University, and the location figures largely in the work of these 3 men, particularly James Joyce. I each case, the sons became more successful than their fathers, and their prodigality led to the sons choosing to lead a different life. I enjoyed the information on the families and the links to Irish history that enhance the story.
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  • Clare
    January 1, 1970
    Portraits of literary dads, some of whom were not the best of parents.
  • Meghan
    January 1, 1970
    Toibin begins in a familiar Irish literary tradition--walking the streets of Dublin. Here, he departs from the statues and monuments of Ireland's literary giants to note the less obvious landmarks of the Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce families. Beginning geographically, then in letters, paintings, finally literary analysis, Toibin draws lines first between these author's families and their work, then between each other and back to their country. I loved this book from its first paragraph, and, saddened Toibin begins in a familiar Irish literary tradition--walking the streets of Dublin. Here, he departs from the statues and monuments of Ireland's literary giants to note the less obvious landmarks of the Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce families. Beginning geographically, then in letters, paintings, finally literary analysis, Toibin draws lines first between these author's families and their work, then between each other and back to their country. I loved this book from its first paragraph, and, saddened by finishing it, was drawn immediately back to the classics to which Toibin pays tribute.
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  • Jack
    January 1, 1970
    A very entertaining exploration of the lives of William Wilde, John B. Yeats and John Stanislaus Joyce. The story of Yeats' father is a favourite of mine if only for the sheer amount of quotation from his letters, which seem utterly fascinating and readable. I think scholarship is, in some sense, marred by the technological move from communications by letter to email or WhatsApp. One rarely feels the need to communicate in terms of short essay - which is what a letter essentially was - because t A very entertaining exploration of the lives of William Wilde, John B. Yeats and John Stanislaus Joyce. The story of Yeats' father is a favourite of mine if only for the sheer amount of quotation from his letters, which seem utterly fascinating and readable. I think scholarship is, in some sense, marred by the technological move from communications by letter to email or WhatsApp. One rarely feels the need to communicate in terms of short essay - which is what a letter essentially was - because the instantaneous nature of online communication prioritises simple, direct communications, or hours-long text exchanges which could probably be very interesting if one is willing to dig through them. Letters were in some sense simpler. Of course, the only reason this bothers me at all is because I've deleted my Facebook and feel uneasy about the status of all the messages I wrote, about where they are, their acessability, and if it would be of interest to any future scholar to find out something about me from how I was then. That is...a very presumptuous and egoistic fantasy, but it's fair to assume the great writers of the next fifty years will be understood in terms of their online legacies. The nature of biography will change. I await this change like all premonitions - with wide-eyed eerie resentment.
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