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Maud Gonne and Others – the Women of WB Yeats

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As Joseph Hassett puts it in his introduction , WB Yeats “made a fundamental choice of the role of lover” and wrote many of his poems and lived much of his life in pursuit of “the old high way of love” (“Adam’s Curse”). Hassett’s book is therefore a study at one level of the various key women in Yeats’s life by whom he was inspired to write some of his best poems and whom he sought to love in a variety of ways, not all of them high, but with increasing inventiveness and complexity. The title indicates that the metaphor of the Muse is going to be used as a means both of grouping the women and of focusing the study. As a result, one key figure is omitted. Augusta Lady Gregory, for all that they worked closely together for over forty years and co-founded an Irish National Theatre, was “not a Muse” since “there is no indication that Yeats was erotically attracted to Gregory”; her feelings for him are not discussed. Maud Gonne naturally occupies a central role. Hassett astutely holds off i…