From Publishers Weekly
Yeats has had plenty of attention in recent years (most notably a two-volume life by R.F. Foster), but McCormack believes that previous biographers have been too willing to overlook what he sees as the poet's association with fascism in his last years (he died in 1939). Even Richard Ellmann, McCormack says, failed to mention Yeats's acceptance of an award from Nazi Germany in 1934. Where others reputedly have allowed only that Yeats "flirted" with fascism, McCormack sees a more intense relationship. Yeats's favorable comments about Nazi Germany play a part in this argument, but McCormack also relies heavily on guilt by association, sketching out the fascist and anti-Semitic tendencies of members of Yeats's inner circle, including Maud Gonne and her daughter Iseult. This is not quite convincing, especially when invoking people who knew Yeats's friends but not the poet himself. McCormack, a former professor of literary history at the University of London, tends to make grand and repeated announcements about his aim instead of simply getting on with the story. His life study also assumes the reader has a deep familiarity with its subject, with frequent reference to incidents that will leave less informed readers puzzled. While the political revisionism is straightforward enough, the attempt to link it to Yeats's poetic and spiritual beliefs makes for maddeningly tough going. (Oct. 1)
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“A troubling, important assessment of Yeat's life and work.” -- Kirkus Reviews