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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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... obviously have something in common with the respondents to a previous survey cited by Bordo, over a third of whom replied to the question of what they feared most in the world: ‘Getting fat.’ MaudEllmann’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 ...

I now, I then

Thomas Keymer: Life-Writing

16 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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... deflected; held in place; but cannot describe the stream.’ What, on terrain like this, is the autobiographer to do? Perhaps simply set all scruples aside for the sake of getting the job done. MaudEllmann 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 ...

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 ...

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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... powerful, and possessed of what the English seem to have heard as a sweet but not too obtrusive brogue. Almost all of his other novels are poor stuff, and Dracula itself is far from perfect. As MaudEllmann 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 ...
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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... because we like gossip better than professorial personality purges, but because many people have come to think that the impersonality business was nonsense anyway. This is roughly the position of MaudEllmann’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 ...

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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... small and erratic living, and William was working on his second volume of poems. He had become heavily 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 ...
20 September 1984
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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... with this addition, since it solves the conundrum of a passage in the Circe chapter, 516/581, where 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 ...


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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... The Waste Land’s violation of passages from Antigone, The Tempest and Ulysses, which are among its sources of inspiration, enacts the violation of Bleistein’s body. Eliot deforms those texts. As MaudEllmann 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 ...

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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... we damage the ego irremediably in the process, but that only reminds us that opposites exist in some realms and not in others, and that difference, even enmity, doesn’t prevent collusion. As MaudEllmann 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 ...

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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... Wilde’s influence was felt, too, in the continuing notoriety of Salome, given a new lease of life 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 ...

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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... led by the Fay brothers, who had good reason to resent his frequent high-handedness. Throughout these 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 ...

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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... estate issued a complaint about Bate’s numerous factual errors and penchant for ‘tasteless speculation’. 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 ...
30 March 2016
... works that would remain among the greatest they produced and which would add in their own awkward 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 ...

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