Books by Keith Alldritt

W.B. YEATS by Keith Alldritt
Released: June 1, 1997

With no new ground to break in either personal life or historical context, Alldritt's perspective on Yeats as ``calculating dreamer'' and ``clubman'' is fairly mundane. Faced with William Butler Yeats's astonishingly varied career and equally varied literary output, many Yeats biographers like Alldritt (English/Univ. of British Columbia) rush their narratives through his long and productive life. Typically, their biographic jeweler's loops focus on only a few facets: Yeats the Anglo-Irish London journalist, the Gaelic League member, the semi-decadent associate of the Rhymers' Club, the bard of the Celtic Twilight, the dynamo of the Abbey Theater, etc. Alldritt's book also comes just after R.F. Fosters's fact-packed first volume of his life of Yeats (p. 192), which authoritatively details the poet's involvement with various movements for Irish nationalism—Charles Stewart Parnell's home rule bid, Standish O'Grady's revival of Irish culture, and John O'Leary's Young Ireland organization—all matters that Alldritt has less success in untangling. Even Alldritt's ancillary project—to place Yeats in the rise of cultural nationalism all over Europe—falls unfortunately flat (an unconvincing parallel with Sibelius and Finland is a case in point). He has a generally better command of the literary eras Yeats spanned, and he convincingly stresses Yeats's links to French literature, and the Symbolist school in particular, through his visits to Paris and the early influence of Villers de l'Isle-Adam's famous Symbolist drama, Axel's Castle, and his play, The Shadowy Waters. Disappointingly, the drama of Yeats's life, featuring such remarkable cast members as his father, John Butler Yeats, Maud Gonne, Lady Augusta Gregory, and Ezra Pound, gets less than enthralling treatment. A passable summary of Yeats's multifaceted life, but superseded before it hits the shelves. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 20, 1995

In a limpidly written tribute to the friendship that epitomized the ``special relationship'' between Britain and the US, Alldritt (English/Univ. of British Columbia; Churchill the Writer, 1993, not reviewed, etc.) celebrates FDR and Winston Churchill's fateful association. In retrospect, the affinity between the British and American leaders of WW II seems natural: They shared similarly aristocratic backgrounds, professional interest in naval affairs, a commitment to representative democracy, an internationalist outlook, and, ultimately, a conviction that fascism needed to be stopped by force. But the first encounter between FDR and Churchill was not propitious: In a 1918 speech to a visiting delegation of Americans that included then Undersecretary of the Navy Roosevelt, Churchill offended his guests by implying that America needed British know- how and direction. However, first as a member of Prime Minister Chamberlain's wartime government and later as prime minister himself, it was Churchill who reached out for American aid and support in response to Roosevelt's invitation to ``keep me in touch personally with anything you want me to know about.'' As Alldritt shows, the relationship between the American president and the British statesman—commenced, probably improperly, while Churchill was a member of the Cabinet—quickly became warm and comradely. Although he documents some of the jealousies and tensions between the two men, as well as their sometimes profound differences in style and outlook, Alldritt appears to gloss over the more strained moments; for instance, he depicts the destroyers-for-bases deal, which some historians have characterized as the product of harsh American bargaining, as an exemplar of Rooseveltian cooperation. But Alldritt is surely correct in concluding that, in the end, this close and affectionate friendship, manifested in nine wartime meetings and 1,700 messages, ``became a force in and upon history.'' Not a landmark contribution to historical scholarship, but a pleasant reflection on the possibilities of friendship. Read full book review >