In four Library of Congress lectures, also published as articles in New York Review of Books, the eminent literary biographer (who died in May) finds interesting if not new things to say about four great Irish-born writers: Oscar Wilde, influenced by Ruskin and Pater at Oxford, wavering between Roman Catholicism and atheism, between homo- and heterosexuality; W .B. Yeats, after a ""monkey-gland"" operation, writing several great poems toward the end of his life; James Joyce, trying to start love affairs to provide background for the Nausicaa chapter in Ulysses; Samuel Beckett, sumptuous in his use of language, isolating, nearly renouncing particulars and depriving his characters of money, youth, health and fortitude. Ellmann finds connections as well as differences among these writers. Because of what Beckett has written, his Irish predecessors ""take on a different look. Because of their work, he may not seem quite so rootless as he first appears."" Photos. (September)
Reviewed on: 08/04/1987 Release date: 08/01/1987 Genre: Fiction
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