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An Irishman in full

Roy Foster has shaped Yeats's life and verse into a history, rather than just a biography

By Siobhan Phillips   November 2003

Book: WB Yeats: A Life. Part II – The Arch-poet Author: RF Foster Price: (Oxford University Press, ?30)

Yeats remains a model for Irish writers – “even if,” as John Banville writes, “many of us have sought to throw off his example, as one would throw off a smotheringly heavy cloak” – and countless other artists too. But what sort of model?

Two years after this volume opens, Yeats is 52, a famous writer and public man but an inexperienced bumbler in matters of the heart; he decides, in a characteristic mix of self-aggrandisement and whimsy, to marry Georgie Hyde…

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