W.B. Yeats believed that a poet’s life should be an experiment in living. His poems fashion into memorable words the sometimes puzzling emotions that hover over important life events. Yeats’s remarkable work can clarify our own thinking about similar situations. Joseph M. Hassett’s Yeats Now: Echoing into Life extracts and distills the rich harvest of Yeats’s experiment. As Yeats’s biographer Roy Foster comments, Yeats Now is ‘a personal, quizzical, imaginative testament that ranges through Yeats’s thought and writings, showcasing and discussing a series of ringing statements, suggestions and aphorisms that evolve into a kind of vademecum or guide to life. The subjects cover love, anger, friendship, politics, violence, and the competing claims of perfecting the life, or the work.’ This book is an enriching companion to the work of one of the world’s great poets. Its iconography – portraits, photographs, book designs, manuscript letters – illuminates the poems and the life. Its continuing dialogue with writers past and present, from Joyce to Beckett, Heaney and others, offers up an enduring harvest of wisdom for our age.
‘Hassett’s commentary on Yeats’s life and thought is sharply perceptive throughout: empathetic, humorous, and reflecting his own deep immersion in the extraordinary and enduring canon of Yeats’s work. … It is a work of personal engagement that will strike a chord with everyone who cares for Yeats, and anyone who loves poetry.’ —Roy Foster
‘…one of the most beautiful and enjoyable books on Yeats ever to call forth the skills of a gifted designer [a]nd of a true critic … Part of its charm is Joe Hassett’s gift for brief, pointed, surprising comparisons – with Joyce and Beckett – which have the effect of amplifying Yeats’s lines; but it engages us also by the ways in which his deft quotations seem to encourage the reader to link a line from the poetry with one remembered from the prose. … Lucky Yeats … in having an interpreter as relaxed, authoritative and tender as Joseph Hassett.’ —Declan Kiberd, Dublin Review of Books
‘subtle and often illuminating study of what we can learn from Yeats … Hassett’s lively gleanings of Yeats’s wisdom, arranged in categories such as Marrying, Working, Making Your Soul and Facing Death, are a delight to read … Hassett is an uncommonly acute and insightful reader of poetry, highly attuned to the noise made by the poem.’ —Michael O’Loughlin, The
JOSEPH M. HASSETT has written extensively on Yeats, Joyce and other Irish writers. He holds a Ph.D. in Anglo-Irish Literature from University College Dublin and is a graduate of Canisius College and Harvard Law School. His previous publications include W.B. Yeats and the Muses (Oxford University Press, 2010) and The Ulysses Trials: Beauty and Truth Meet the Law (Lilliput, 2016).