Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce

Simon and Schuster

Narrated by Colm Toibin

6 hr 7 min

From the multiple award-winning author of The Master and Brooklyn, an illuminating look at Irish culture, history, and literature through the lives of the fathers of three of Ireland’s greatest writers—Oscar Wilde's father, William Butler Yeats's father, and James Joyce's father—“Thrilling, wise, and resonant, this book aptly unites Tóibín’s novelistic gifts for psychology and emotional nuance with his talents as a reader and critic, in incomparably elegant prose” (The New York Times Book Review).

Colm Tóibín begins his incisive, revelatory Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know with a walk through the Dublin streets where he went to university and where three Irish literary giants came of age. Oscar Wilde, writing about his relationship with his father 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, 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.” 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.

“An entertaining and revelatory book about the vexed relationships between these three pairs of difficult fathers and their difficult sons” (The Wall Street Journal), Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know illustrates the surprising ways these fathers surface in the work of their sons. “As charming as [they are] illuminating, these stories of fathers and sons provide a singular look at an extraordi­nary confluence of genius” (Bookpage). 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. “This immersive book holds literary scholarship to be a heartfelt, heavenly pursuit” (The Washington Post).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Oct 30, 2018
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Duration
6h 7m 49s
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ISBN
9781508267553
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Collections / Essays
Literary Collections / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Literary Criticism / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
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Eligible for Family Library

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2015 Audie Award Finalist for Literary Fiction

From one of contemporary literature’s bestselling, critically acclaimed, and beloved authors: a “luminous” novel (Jennifer Egan, The New York Times Book Review) about a fiercely compelling young widow navigating grief, fear, and longing, and finding her own voice—“heartrendingly transcendant” (The New York Times, Janet Maslin).

Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín’s magnificent seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable, and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be sucked back into it. Wounded, selfish, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning insight and empathy, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven—herself.

Nora Webster “may actually be a perfect work of fiction” (Los Angeles Times), by a “beautiful and daring” writer (The New York Times Book Review) at the zenith of his career, able to “sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations” (USA TODAY). “Miraculous...Tóibín portrays Nora with tremendous sympathy and understanding” (Ron Charles, The Washington Post).
* Winner of the 2018 Audie Award for Best Literary Fiction/Classic
* A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of the Year
* Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, St. Louis Dispatch

From the thrilling imagination of bestselling, award-winning Colm Tóibín comes a retelling of the story of Clytemnestra—a spectacularly audacious, violent, vengeful, lustful, and instantly compelling queen of Greek mythology—and her children.

“I have been acquainted with the smell of death.” So begins Clytemnestra’s tale of her own life in ancient Mycenae, the legendary Greek city from which her husband King Agamemnon left when he set sail with his army for Troy. Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon on the day of his return after nine years at war.

Judged, despised, cursed by gods she has long since lost faith in, Clytemnestra reveals the tragic saga that led to these bloody actions: how her husband deceived her eldest daughter Iphigeneia with a promise of marriage to Achilles, only to sacrifice her because that is what he was told would make the winds blow in his favor and take him to Troy; how she seduced and collaborated with the prisoner Aegisthus, who shared her bed in the dark and could kill; how Agamemnon came back with a lover himself; and how Clytemnestra finally achieved her vengeance for his stunning betrayal—his quest for victory, greater than his love for his child.

In House of Names, Colm Tóibín brings a modern sensibility and language to an ancient classic, and gives this extraordinary character new life, so that we not only believe Clytemnestra’s thirst for revenge, but applaud it. He brilliantly inhabits the mind of one of Greek myth’s most powerful villains to reveal the love, lust, and pain she feels. Told in fours parts, this is a fiercely dramatic portrait of a murderess, who will herself be murdered by her own son, Orestes. It is Orestes’ story, too: his capture by the forces of his mother’s lover Aegisthus, his escape and his exile. And it is the story of the vengeful Electra, who watches over her mother and Aegisthus with cold anger and slow calculation, until, on the return of her brother, she has the fates of both of them in her hands.
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