By: Adrian Frazier
Maud Gonne’s romances with Lucien Millevoye, W. B. Yeats, and John MacBride were carried on with so much drama that every reader will be grateful for the vast documentation that Adrian Frazier’s research has unearthed. The rich mixture of politics and sexuality is his muse, and this volume is as inspired as Frazier’s brilliant and hilarious biography of George Moore. Gonne seems to have lived for the sake of giving Frazier material. With its international cast of characters, its spies, lovers, poets, politicians, and princes, The Adulterous Muse is a captivating book as well as a splendid biography.—Lucy McDiarmid
Maud Gonne was the beautiful and charismatic inspiration of Yeats’s love poetry, a leading activist in the Irish republican movement and the founder of Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland). One hundred and fifty years after her birth, everyone still knows her face, but her life remains something of a mystery. This biography pursues the story of what attracted Maud Gonne to a man like Lucien Millevoye, and what imprint the attachment left upon her. Once jilted by Millevoye, Gonne marched into a truly ill-starred marriage to Major John MacBride. The horrible truth of their mismatch is examined through the evidence entered by both parties in the divorce proceedings.
The author uses the vast resources of newly digitised French newspapers and journals to track the celebrated Gonne and her beloved Lucien Millevoye through the sensational turmoil of the Third Republic in France and into the violent push for a republic in Ireland. The shifting levels of awareness, desire, and mutual complicity in self-deception on the part of W.B. Yeats and his muse are traced with subtlety. Ultimately, the effect of the group biography as a whole is to make Yeats’s early love poems, so long in the public eye, more visible than they have ever been.