This short book by the late Richard Ellmann consists of four essays, on Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, and Beckett. Delivered first as lectures at the Library of Congress between 1982 and 1985, they were subsequently published as pamphlets by the Library, and also appeared in The New York Review of Books; now, with Braziller's assistance, they have been turned into a handsome book, written with the elegance and authority we have grown familiar with in Ellmann’s work over the years. Here I have in mind not so much his major work—the Joyce biography—or his early books on Yeats, but the rather more modest collections of related essays on writers: Eminent Domain (1967), which traced Yeats’s affiliations with such contemporaries as Wilde, Joyce, Pound, Eliot, and Auden; and Golden Codgers (1973), a collection of “biographical speculations” (as its subtitle noted) on...


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