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Vampiric Words

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 26 May 1994

The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing and Imprisonment 
by Maud Ellmann.
Virago, 136 pp., £7.99, September 1993, 1 85381 675 2
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... a third of whom replied to the question of what they feared most in the world: ‘Getting fat.’ Maud Ellmann’s The Hunger Artists had already appeared when Jane Fonda announced her latest incarnation, but if one were to extend the associative logic by which Ellmann interprets the actress’s earlier ...

I now, I then

Thomas Keymer: Life-Writing, 17 August 2017

AHistory of English Autobiography 
edited by Adam Smyth.
Cambridge, 437 pp., £64.99, June 2016, 978 1 107 07841 3
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... autobiographer to do? Perhaps simply set all scruples aside for the sake of getting the job done. Maud Ellmann recounts the imperviableness of several pioneering psychoanalysts to the implications for narrative of their own theories, which emphasise fracture, upheaval, trauma and neurosis over the conscious processes of mental life and the orderly ...

Running out of Soil

Terry Eagleton: Bram Stoker and Irish Protestant Gothic, 2 December 2004

From the Shadow of Dracula: A Life of Bram Stoker 
by Paul Murray.
Cape, 356 pp., £18.99, July 2004, 0 224 04462 1
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... brogue. Almost all of his other novels are poor stuff, and Dracula itself is far from perfect. As Maud Ellmann pointed out in her Oxford edition of the book, characters change hair colour inexplicably, turn up at the wrong hotels, lapse in and out of silly accents, conduct operations without anaesthetic and blood transfusions without regard to ...

Feast of St Thomas

Frank Kermode, 29 September 1988

Eliot’s New Life 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Oxford, 356 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 19 811727 2
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The Letters of T.S. Eliot 
edited by Valerie Eliot.
Faber, 618 pp., £25, September 1988, 0 571 13621 4
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The Poetics of Impersonality 
by Maud Ellmann.
Harvester, 207 pp., £32.50, January 1988, 0 7108 0463 6
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T.S. Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism 
by Richard Shusterman.
Duckworth, 236 pp., £19.95, February 1988, 0 7156 2187 4
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‘The Men of 1914’: T.S. Eliot and Early Modernism 
by Erik Svarny.
Open University, 268 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 335 09019 2
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Eliot, Joyce and Company 
by Stanley Sultan.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 504880 6
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The Savage and the City in the Work of T.S. Eliot 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 251 pp., £25, December 1987, 9780198128694
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T.S. Eliot: The Poems 
by Martin Scofield.
Cambridge, 264 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 30147 5
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... come to think that the impersonality business was nonsense anyway. This is roughly the position of Maud Ellmann’s brisk first book. Eliot called Pound’s Cantos ‘a reticent biography’, and she thinks we should apply the same description to Eliot’s work. According to her, early Modernism, despite the contrary pretence, was always ...


Tom Paulin, 9 May 1996

T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism and Literary Form 
by Anthony Julius.
Cambridge, 308 pp., £30, September 1995, 0 521 47063 3
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... sources of inspiration, enacts the violation of Bleistein’s body. Eliot deforms those texts. As Maud Ellmann has noted, he ‘desecrates tradition’ at the opening of The Waste Land – twisting Chaucer on the sweetness of spring – and aims to steal and blasphemously deface the works he pilfers. Frank Kermode calls that seminal poem a work of ...

A Djinn speaks

Colm Tóibín: What about George Yeats?, 20 February 2003

Becoming George: The Life of Mrs W.B. Yeats 
by Ann Saddlemyer.
Oxford, 808 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 19 811232 7
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... In 1979, in a preface to a new edition of Yeats: The Man and the Masks, Richard Ellmann wrote about 46 Palmerston Road in Rathmines in Dublin, where George Yeats lived between her husband’s death in 1939 and her own death almost thirty years later. Mrs Yeats lived, Ellmann wrote, among the dead poet’s papers ...

There is no cure

Michael Wood: Freud’s Guesswork, 6 July 2006

The Penguin Freud Reader 
edited by Adam Phillips.
Penguin, 570 pp., £14.99, January 2006, 0 14 118743 3
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... some realms and not in others, and that difference, even enmity, doesn’t prevent collusion. As Maud Ellmann writes in her introduction to On Murder, Mourning and Melancholia, part of the New Penguin Freud series, ‘what is remarkable about Freud’s work is the insight that impulse and repression are complicit rather than opposed.’ A wonderful ...
Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition 
by James Joyce, edited by Hans Walter Gabler, Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior.
Garland, 1919 pp., $200, May 1984, 0 8240 4375 8
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James Joyce 
by Richard Ellmann.
Oxford, 900 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 19 281465 6
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... Stephen says: ‘Tell me the word, mother, if you know now. The word known to all men.’ Richard Ellmann virtually solved it in Ulysses on the Liffey (1972) with his chapter called ‘The Riddle of Scylla and Charybdis’, which argues that ‘the answer to the sphinx’s riddle was man, the answer to Scylla-Charybdis’s is the act of love.’ But that ...

Lily and Lolly

Sarah Rigby, 18 July 1996

The Yeats Sisters: A Biography of Susan and Elizabeth Yeats 
by Joan Hardwick.
Pandora, 263 pp., £8.99, January 1996, 0 04 440924 9
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... involved with Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society; he was courting new friends, including Maud Gonne, and writing a few reviews. According to Richard Ellmann, William too was offered a job at this time, but turned it down because it was on a Unionist newspaper. Jack was at art college. At the end of that year, Lily ...

Mauve Monkeys

William Fiennes, 18 September 1997

Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy and the First World War 
by Philip Hoare.
Duckworth, 250 pp., £16.95, July 1997, 0 7156 2737 6
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... by the success of The Vision of Salome, a titillating dance entertainment starring the voluptuous Maud Allan, herself an icon for homosexuals and a focus for stories of sexual debauchery that included manifold lesbian liaisons and affairs with the King and the Duke of Westminster. Such ‘degeneracy’ was too much for conservatives to swallow, and in the ...

What he did

Frank Kermode, 20 March 1997

W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. I: The Apprentice Mage 
by R.F. Foster.
Oxford, 640 pp., £25, March 1997, 0 19 211735 1
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... years he also suffered continually from the many wounding disappointments inflicted on him by Maud Gonne, whose intransigence he rewarded with the best love poetry of the century. Eventually he found complicated reasons to be grateful for her unrelenting refusal to understand or accept him: ‘What matter? How much of the best I have done and still do is ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes in His Cage, 17 March 2016

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... Its style and approach, it’s true, bring Kitty Kelley to mind more often than Richard Ellmann: it is aimed squarely at an audience conceived as wanting its close readings of ‘Pike’ and ‘The Thought-Fox’ leavened by details of Hughes’s ‘vigorous’ love-making, and likely to be impressed by pseudo-profound sentences such as ...
... and argumentative ways to the Rebellion’s myth.In August 1916, Yeats was staying in France with Maud Gonne – whose husband, John MacBride, had been among those executed by the British – when he received a letter from Lady Gregory. She was, she wrote, ‘a little puzzled’ by Yeats’sapparent indifference to Ireland after your excitement after the ...

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