Naru's Happy Travel
DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.14354/yjk.1999.11.47
The GonneYeats Letters 연구: 새로운 시각에서 본 Maud Gonne
창원대
A Study on The Gonne-Yeats Letters: a New Perspective on Maud Gonne
,

Changwon National University
Abstract
In the history of literature, women have appeared more as subsidiary figures to inspire or help male authors than as creators of literature themselves. Dante’s Beatrice, Petrarch’s Laura, and Dorothy Wordsworth can be cited as classical examples. Maud Gonne, Yeats’s lifelong lover, does not go beyond the boundary. In his poetry, Yeats portrayed her as an embodiment of eternal beauty, femme fatale like Helen of Troy or Deidre of Ireland, heroic figure of unbounded nobility and courage. But Yeats did not always praise and idealize her. He showed his dissatisfaction with her violent political activities and in his poetry she appeared as a heedless, overly proud woman who had wrought her own misfortune. But however diversified and numerous her images may have been, she exists in his poetry as objectified images shaped by Yeats’s transformed imagination. But in 1997, Maud’s letters to Yeats during the entire period of their acquaintance were published. Through them, we can get access to her as ‘a speaking subject’ uttering her own thoughts and emotions. We can acquire firsthand information on their relationship and direct response to the various incidents. By analyzing her letters in detail, I tried to present hitherto unknown aspects of Maud Gonne and shed light on some misunderstandings about her. For example, some critics denounced her indifference to Yeats’ poetry. But in her letters, she continually advised him not to let other activity ― be it political or theatrical―deprive him of his time and energy to engage in his proper work-writing of poetry. And her sincere concerns for the poor, the suffering, and the underpriviledged and her sympathetic understanding of women’s situation in Ireland have been hitherto unappreciated. As this essay’s main concern is Maud Gonne as a speaking subject of the letters, its aim is not an authoritative biographical study on Maud Gonne, but to view her life from a new perspective.

 



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