LUCKY EYES AND A HIGH HEART: The Life of Maud Gonne by Nancy Cardozo


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Cardozo is more literary, less dry and documentary than Samuel Levenson, last year's biographer of Yeats' and Ireland's inamorata. A poet herself, Cardozo focuses for some time on Yeats--a lot of poetry gets quoted--but Maud's tale is itself so eventful, so wild and woolly, that poetry does not seem out of place. Born in England to well-to-do English parents, grown to nearly six feet and striking beauty, Maud Gonne managed before she was 30 to identify herself with the causes of Irish freedom and of the downtrodden Irish peasantry. With time out for mysticism and to reject various proposals from Yeats, with a covert life and two children by a French politician, she still campaigned endlessly for prison reform, land reform, the Gaelic tongue, women's rights. There was a trip to Russia, trips to America to lecture, thirteen years of exile in France, a disastrous marriage to a man later shot for the Easter Uprising, adventures, adventures, adventures, and rarely a dull one. The proclamation of the Free State, when Maud--who reached 87--was 55, turned out to lead to an even rowdier era, with children going underground, and even Maud doing time. The astonishing thing is that she never became merely ridiculous--her causes were always up-to-date. She fought for, with, or against everyone involved with the Irish Question over a 50-year period. Some of the personalities were as vivid as her own, and Cardozo not only makes a clear tale of all this, she tells it all mighty well.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1978
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill