Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce
An intimate study of three of Ireland's greatest writers from one of its best-loved contemporary voices.
'A father...is a necessary evil' - Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses
In Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know Colm Toibin takes three of Ireland's greatest writers - Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats and James Joyce - and examines their earliest influences: their fathers. With his inimitable wit and sensitivity, Toibin introduces us to Wilde Senior, the philandering doctor whose libel case prefigured that of his son; the elder Yeats, an impoverished artist who never finished a painting; and to John Stanislaus Joyce, the hard-drinking, storytelling father of James, who couldn't feed his own family.
This is an illuminating study of how each of these men cast a long shadow not only over the lives of their famous sons, but over the works for which they are celebrated and cherished.
'Astonishing to read. Toibin has a hawk-like eye for literary subtleties, and a generosity towards his subjects that is warm' - Sunday Times * 'Funny, exciting, illuminating, wonderful, so engaging. Tells us more than a little about our own selves along the way' - Irish Times * 'There is something interesting and insightful on almost every page' - Observer * 'Sparkling, subtle, witty and often deeply moving . . . A classic' - Fintan O'Toole, New Statesman * 'Scintillating, imaginative, enlightening and powerfully moving throughout' - Roy Foster, Spectator