Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know

The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce
Narrated by: Colm Tóibín
Length: 6 hrs and 6 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, written and read by Colm Tóibín.

'A father...is a necessary evil.' (Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses)

In Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, Colm Tóibín turns his incisive gaze to three of Ireland's greatest writers, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats and James Joyce, and their earliest influences: their fathers. From Wilde's doctor father, a brilliant statistician and amateur archaeologist, who was taken to court by an obsessed lover in a strange premonition of what would happen to his son; to Yeats' father, an impoverished artist and brilliant letter writer who could never finish a painting; to John Stanislus Joyce, a singer, drinker and storyteller, a man unwilling to provide for his large family, whom his son James memorialised in his work. 

Colm Tóibín illuminates not only the complex relationships between three of the greatest writers in the English language and their fathers but also illustrates the surprising ways they surface in their work.

©2018 Colm Tóibín (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

What listeners say about Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know

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  • Eamon
  • 02-14-19

Narrator awful

While Colm Tóibín is an excellent writer, he should stick to the day job and not try and narrate. The whole book is spoken in a slow, boring voice. Please spare me this suffering!!!

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  • JP
  • 12-13-18

Great

Really loved this book, both historical content and the way it was written. Absolutely recommend.

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  • Katie Chapple
  • 10-04-19

fantastic book- beautifully narrated

beautifully narrated and a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable read that makes you hungry for more

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  • Penthesilea
  • 08-21-19

Read or listen

This is a splendid book, made even better -- in the sense of authentic -- by being read by the author. Strongly recommended.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-06-19

Gorgeous details, tenderly told

Tóibín's narration is conversational and electrifying. The letters of John B Yeats in particular, rendered vividly

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 11-26-18

Fathers and Sons

The book Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know is made up of a collection of lectures which Colm Toibin originally gave in Georgia USA. This makes it particularly suitable for audio, especially when read by the writer himself. At first I was rather irritated by Toibin’s gentle, super-reverential, conspiratorial voice, but I became drawn in, mesmerised by the Irish cadences and the feeling of intimacy which his voice creates between author and listener, and between listener and the family dynamics he creates so vividly as he probes the father-son relationships. The fathers of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and W.B.Yeats all in their different ways were eccentric, highly creative, gifted, flawed – and, like Byron, ‘mad, bad, dangerous to know’. Toibin’s immersion in James Joyce’s work is total as he explores Joyce’s depiction of his father, mainly in Ulysses and Dubliners, where Joyce recreated an insightful, forgiving version of the pitiful, fearful drunk Joyce senior was in reality. Oscar Wilde’s father William was a pioneering eye and ear surgeon with a phenomenal hunger for learning. Having been almost ruined by sexual scandal, he was dead at 61 – and in Reading Gaol when Oscar Wilde wrote of his own life in In Profundis, his father was written out of it, despite their obvious similarities. W.B.Yeats' father, a gifted but largely unrecognised artist, exiled himself to New York in old age in flight from Ireland and his successful son, never to return but spending years exchanging hundreds of love letters with Rosa Butt whom he had known in his youth and whom would never meet again. The whole download is only six hours and would certainly repay second and even third listenings as it is so densely and rewardingly packed.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-13-20

Great Irish Author Colm Tóibín

This book was excellent. I chose it more so based on the author than his story of the fathers of three brilliant literary canonical figures. Toibin is a master of the language. His every word is delicate, thoughtful and picturable. Descriptions of old Dublin streets, houses, bars, and other significant landmarks; the lives and world of the privileged; the generations of artistic talent and the sadness inherent in these lives make for such compelling reading. If you are not familiar with the works of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce, this is your opportunity to discover a rich contextual background of the authors, and further, appreciate some of the great Irish writers of our time. Colm Toibin, in time, will become one of these great Irish greats!