I must have been sleeping myself because two years ago I missed the publication of another book about Maud Gonne. Gonne the famous revolutionary, suffragete and actress who helped found the precursor of Cumman na mBann (Inghinidhe na hÉireann) is picked over yet again in a book by Kim Bendheim in The Fascination of What’s Difficult: A Life of Maud Gonne .
The review says;
“In her first book, The Fascination of What’s Difficult: A Life of Maud Gonne, Kim Bendheim does not shy away from complication. In fact, she embraces it in a succinct but richly detailed critical biography of one of Ireland’s most celebrated and enigmatic political and cultural figures. The result is a compelling study of a woman who for too long has been perceived as otherworldly, despite the fact that she had dedicated her life to Ireland’s revolutionary struggle.”
The problem is there are layers of ‘compelling’ studies of Gonne and the causes she fought the men who loved her and the men she loved.
There was no rest for Maud, what with having to fight off the adoration of W B Yeats and others and plotting the assassination of King Edward VII on her Spanish honeymoon with John MacBride in 1903. No time for the sun lounger for Maud when there is a revolution to work on and no time for Macbride either after 1905 – they separated, However MacBride went on to be a key figure in 1916 and one of those executed. MacBride was probably a better match for Maud than Yeats. When Yeats was spurned he wrote a acidc poem ‘When You Are Old’, when MacBride was discarded he went to the barricades!
I’m a sucker for Maud and I ordered a copy!
Image: Maud Gonne 1901
Celtic League (22nd October 2023)