Mothers and Sons is a sensitive and beautifully written meditation on the dramas surrounding this most elemental of relationships. Psychologically intricate and emotionally incisive, each finely wrought story teases out the delicate and difficult strands woven between mothers and sons. This is an acute, masterful and moving collection that confirms Tóibín as a great prose stylist of our time. 'Colm Tóibín is a writer of extraordinary emotional clarity. Each of the nine stories is a snapshot of a point of crisis . . . Tóibín perfectly understands the instantaneous nature of the ideal short story; the sense that the pen is going straight into a major vein. These are beautiful stories, beautifully crafted’ Kate Saunders, Literary Review 'The last story in this excellent collection is a superbly powerful tale of betrayal and desertion. Quintessential Tóibín’ Spectator ‘Moving . . . beautifully captured moments of longing and loss . . . Tóibín is a subtle, intelligent and deeply felt writer’ Guardian 'By turns surprising and illuminating, always beautifully written, Mothers and Sons places Tóibín in the front rank of modern Irish fiction . . . It may not be going too far to suggest Irish fiction has found its first Master of the new century’ Scotland on Sunday
In January 1895 Henry James anticipates the opening of his first play, Guy Domville, in London. The production fails, and he returns, chastened and humiliated, to his writing desk. The result is a string of masterpieces, but they are produced at a high personal cost. In The Master Colm Tóibín captures the exquisite anguish of a man who circulated in the grand parlours and palazzos of Europe, who was astonishingly vibrant and alive in his art, and yet whose attempts at intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love. It is a powerful account of the hazards of putting the life of the mind before affairs of the heart.
'It is the battle between those who use a toothbrush and those who don't.' So wrote Augusta Gregory to W.B. Yeats; she was referring to the riots at the Abbey Theatre over The Playboy of the Western World, and she knew which side she was on. In this remarkable biographical essay, Colm Toibin examines the contradictions that defined the position of this essential figure in Irish cultural history, The wife of a landlord and MP who had been personally responsible for introducing measures that compounded the misery of the Irish peasantry during the Great Famine, Lady Gregory devoted much of her creative energy to idealizing the same peasantry -- while never abandoning the aristocratic hauteur, the social connections or the great house which her birth and marriage had bequeathed her. Early in her writing life, her politics were staunchly unionist -- yet she campaigned for the freedom of Egypt from colonial rule. Later she wrote plays celebrating rebellion, but trembled in her bed when the Irish revolution threatened her property and her way of life. Lady Gregory's capacity to occupy mutually contradictory positions was essential to her heroic work as a founder and director of the Abbey Theatre -- nurturing Synge and O'Casey, battling rioters and censors -- and to her central role in the career of W. B. Yeats. She was Yeats's artistic collaborator (writing most of Cathleen Ni Houlihan, for example), his helpmeet, and his diplomatic wing. Toibin's account of Yeats's attemts - by turns glorious and graceless -- to memorize Lady Gregory's son Robert when he was killed in the First World War, and of Lady Gregory's pain at her loss and at the poet's appropriation of it, is a moving tour de force of literary history. Toibin also reveals a side of Lady Gregory that is at odds with the received image of a chilly dowager. Early in her marriage to Sir William Gregory, she had an affain with the poet and anti-imperialist Wilfred Scawen Blunt and wrote a series of torrid love sonnets that Blunt published under his own name. Much later in life, as she neared her sixtieth birthday, she fell in love with the great patron of arts John Quinn, who was eighteen years her junior. Lady Gregory's Toothbrush is a sharp, concentrated, witty and much-needed reassessment of a major cultural figure who has been oddly taken for granted and often badly misunderstood.
Après le sacrifice de sa fille, une mère fomente la mise à mort de l'assassin. Enragée, elle crie sa joie de venger son enfant. Puis son fils est enlevé et passe des années en exil où, dans un douloureux monologue intérieur, il revit le meurtre de sa soeur. Au foyer, il ne reste qu'une fille, obsédée jusqu'à la folie par la place démesurée qu'occupent les disparus dans le coeur de leur mère. Clytemnestre, Oreste, Électre. Ils mêlent leurs voix en un choeur tragique pour raconter ce drame : l'assassinat d'Iphigénie par son père en échange d'une victoire à la guerre. Dans des paysages sauvages qui rappellent les contrées isolées d'Irlande, Colm Tóibín donne aux héros et aux héroïnes du mythe grec une humanité bouleversante, inattendue, qui nous hante longtemps. " Tóibín marie miraculeusement son respect pour les textes anciens à la sensibilité d'aujourd'hui. Une époustouflante modernité... " The Washington Post. " Le drame intime de l'implosion d'une famille dans ces temps incertains où les dieux abandonnent les humains... " Publishers Weekly.
Enniscorthy, Irlande, années 1950. Comme de nombreuses jeunes femmes de son âge, Eilis Lacey ne parvient pas à trouver du travail. Par l'entremise d'un prêtre, on lui propose un emploi en Amérique, à Brooklyn. Poussée par sa famille, Eilis s'exile à contrecoeur. Au début, le mal du pays la submerge. Mais comment résister aux plaisirs de l'anonymat, à l'excitation de la nouveauté ? Loin du regard de ceux qui la connaissent depuis toujours, Eilis goûte une sensation de liberté proche du bonheur. Puis un drame familial l'oblige à retraverser l'Atlantique. Au pays, Brooklyn se voile de l'irréalité des rêves. Eilis ne sait plus à quel monde elle appartient, quel homme elle aime, quelle vie elle souhaite. Elle voudrait ne pas devoir choisir, ne pas devoir trahir.Le chef-d'oeuvre de Colm Tóibín est aujourd'hui un film réalisé par John Crowley, sur un scénario de Nick Hornby, nommé aux Oscars dans trois catégories - meilleure actrice, meilleure adaptation, meilleur film.
Irlande, fin des années 1960. Nora, qui élève seule ses quatre enfants depuis la mort de son mari, tente de refaire sa vie sous l'oeil critique des habitants de la petite ville où elle vit depuis toujours. Opiniâtre et indocile, elle s'affranchit peu à peu des cancans et s'autorise de menues libertés : prendre des cours de chant, s'acheter une chaîne stéréo... La profondeur des émotions que soulève en elle la musique s'accorde au réveil de sa sensibilité et de sa personnalité. Le récit de la renaissance de Nora dans une société irlandaise en pleine mutation est magistralement servi par une prose musicale, délicate et nuancée : " Ce sont les phrases renfermant de l'émotion qui m'intéressent, dit Colm Tóibín. À travers le rythme, il faut contenir l'émotion, la relâcher, la contenir, la relâcher. " Et derrière le portrait de Nora, c'est la vérité de sa mère qu'il tente d'atteindre. Il lui a fallu plus d'une décennie pour terminer ce livre, trop intimidant, trop personnel. " Aujourd'hui, peu de romanciers ont le courage, comme Tóibín, de montrer la vie telle qu'elle est plutôt que comme la voudrait l'art, et ce en nous émouvant profondément. " John Banville
" Voilà Tóibín en parfait contrôle de son art. "The Sunday TelegraphSans doute parce qu'ils étaient différents, trop sensuels et rebelles à l'hypocrisie, les protagonistes de ces neuf nouvelles ont quitté leur cercle familial et se sont exilés. Pourtant, ils ne souffrent plus d'être éloignés de leur passé. Au contraire. Malik, jeune Pakistanais immigré à Barcelone, découvre son homosexualité dans une communauté musulmane plus tolérante que son père. Pour Frances, l'Irlandaise devenue américaine, revenir au pays, c'est se réconcilier avec l'une des plus belles pages de sa vie amoureuse, avant de repartir définitivement. Carme, rejetée par ses parents franquistes, les retrouve alors qu'ils s'apprêtent à brader aux promoteurs la vieille demeure où règne encore le souvenir de sa grand-mère...
La prose voluptueuse et lancinante de Colm Tóibín nous emporte vers ces moments de basculement subtil où, quittant l'ombre de leur exil intérieur, des personnages accèdent enfin à la clarté.
" Par sa délicatesse de ton et la soudaine intimité de ses révélations,
La Couleur des ombres fait écho aux précédentes oeuvres de Tóibín, les grandit et les rend uniques. "
The Financial Times
Mon fils s'était laissé capturer. Au cours des heures que j'ai passées dans cette maison avec ses disciples, j'ai bien vu que, pour eux, c'était dans l'ordre des choses. Son arrestation faisait partie des étapes nécessaires de la grande délivrance qui surviendrait dans le monde. J'ai failli leur demander si cette délivrance signifiait qu'il ne serait pas crucifié, mais libéré au contraire. Je me suis ravisée. Tous ces gens ne parlaient que par énigmes, et j'ai compris qu'aucune de mes questions ne recevrait de réponse claire. J'étais revenue dans le monde des idiots, des bègues, des contorsionnés et des malcontents. Ils sont deux à la surveiller, à l'interroger pour lui faire dire ce qu'elle n'a pas vu. Ils dressent de son fils un portrait dans lequel elle ne le reconnaît pas, et veulent bâtir autour de sa crucifixion une légende qu'elle refuse. Seule, elle tente de s'opposer au mythe que les anciens compagnons de son fils sont en train de forger. " Tóibín est un écrivain merveilleux : sa prose, lyrique et émouvante, est un vrai miracle. " The Observer
Brooklyn is a devastating story of love, loss and one woman's terrible choice between duty and personal freedom.
It is Ireland in the early 1950s and for Eilis Lacey, as for so many young Irish girls, opportunities are scarce. So when her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, Eilis knows she must go, leaving behind her family and her home for the first time.Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. She is far from home - and homesick. And just as she takes tentative steps towards friendship, and perhaps something more, Eilis receives news which sends her back to Ireland. There she will be confronted by a terrible dilemma - a devastating choice between duty and one great love.'With this elating and humane novel, Colm Toibín has produced a masterwork' Sunday Times
'The most compelling and moving portrait of a young woman I have read in a long time' Zoë Heller Guardian, Books of the Year 'A work of such skill, understatement and sly jewelled merriment could haunt your life' Ali Smith, TLS, Books of the YearWhen you are finished why not read the companion novel Nora Webster.
'I imagined lamplight, shadows, soft voices, clothes put away, the low sound of late news on the radio. And I thought as I crossed the bridge at Baggot Street to face the last stretch of my own journey home that no matter what I had done, I had not done that.'
In the captivating stories that make up The Empty Family Colm Toibín delineates with a tender and unique sensibility lives of unspoken or unconscious longing, of individuals, often willingly, cast adrift from their history. From the young Pakistani immigrant who seeks some kind of permanence in a strange town to the Irish woman reluctantly returning to Dublin and discovering a city that refuses to acknowledge her long absence each of Toibín's stories manage to contain whole worlds: stories of fleeing the past and returning home, of family threads lost and ultimately regained.
* * * Shortlisted for the 2014 Costa Novel Awards and the 2015 Folio Prize * * * Nora Webster is the heartbreaking new novel from one of the greatest novelists writing today.
It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them. Slowly, through the gift of music and the power of friendship, she finds a glimmer of hope and a way of starting again. As the dynamic of the family changes, she seems both fiercely self-possessed but also a figure of great moral ambiguity, making her one of the most memorable heroines in contemporary fiction. The portrait that is painted in the years that follow is harrowing, piercingly insightful, always tender and deeply true. Colm Toibín's Nora is a character as resonant as Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary and Nora Webster is a novel that illuminates our own lives in a way that is rare in literature. Its humanity and compassion forge an unforgettable reading experience.
'A profoundly gifted world writer' Sebastian Barry
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2013From the author of Brooklyn comes a short, powerful novel about one of the most famous mothers in history.In a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief. For Mary, her son has been lost to the world, and now, living in exile and in fear, she tries to piece together the memories of the events that led to her son's brutal death. To her he was a vulnerable figure, surrounded by men who could not be trusted, living in a time of turmoil and change. As her life and her suffering begin to acquire the resonance of myth, Mary struggles to break the silence surrounding what she knows to have happened. In her effort to tell the truth in all its gnarled complexity, she slowly emerges as a figure of immense moral stature as well as a woman from history rendered now as fully human.
With an introduction by Roy FosterA classic work of Irish literature, this award-winning novel is an exploration of love, art and identity.This was the night train to Barcelona, some hours before the dawn. This was 1950, late September. I had left my husband. I had left my home. Katherine Proctor has dared to leave her family in Ireland and reach out for a new life. Determined to become an artist, she flees to Spain, where she meets Miguel, a passionate man who has fought for his own freedoms. They retreat to the quiet intensity of the mountains and begin to build a life together. But as Miguel's past catches up with him, Katherine too is forced to re-examine her relationships: with her lover, her painting and the homeland she only thought she knew. . .The South is the book that introduced readers to the astonishing gifts of Colm Toibín, winning the Irish Times First Fiction Award in 1991. Arrestingly visual and enduringly atmospheric, it is a classic novel of art, sacrifice, and courage.
A Guest at the Feast is Colm Toibín's touching memoir. A Guest at the Feast moves from the small town of Enniscorthy to Dublin, from memories of a mother who always had a book on the go to the author's early adulthood, from a love of literature to the influences of place and family. Toibín's captivating memoir is the story of a writer coming of age and his connections between home, work and love. It is a perfect gem of a book.
De Profundis and Other Prison Writings is a new selection of Oscar Wilde's prison letters and poetry in Penguin Classics, edited and introduced by Colm Toibín.At the start of 1895, Oscar Wilde was the toast of London, widely feted for his most recent stage success, An Ideal Husband. But by May of the same year, Wilde was in Reading prison sentenced to hard labour. 'De Profundis' is an epistolic account of Oscar Wilde's spiritual journey while in prison, and describes his new, shocking conviction that 'the supreme vice is shallowness'. This edition also includes further letters to his wife, his friends, the Home Secretary, newspaper editors and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas - Bosie - himself, as well as 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol', the heart-rending poem about a man sentenced to hang for the murder of the woman he loved. This Penguin edition is based on the definitive Complete Letters, edited by Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland. Colm Toibín's introduction explores Wilde's duality in love, politics and literature. This edition also includes notes on the text and suggested further reading. Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin. His three volumes of short fiction, The Happy Prince, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and A House of Pomegranates, together with his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, won him a reputation as a writer with an original talent, a reputation enhanced by the phenomenal success of his society comedies - Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest. Colm Toibín is the author of five novels, including The Blackwater Lightship and The Master, and a collection of stories, Mothers and Sons. His essay collection Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar appeared in 2002. He is the editor of The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction.
From Colm Toibín comes New Ways to Kill Your Mother, a fabulously entertaining book about writers and their families.
In this wonderfully entertaining and enlightening collection, Colm Toibín not only explores the often tense relationship between writers and their families but also conveys, with a rare tenderness and wit, the great joy of reading their work. Here is W.B. Yeats harshly responding to his own father's literary efforts; Thomas Mann ruining his children's prospects; Tennessee Williams haunted by his sister's mental illness; and John Cheever being beastly to his wife.Praise for New Ways to Kill Your Mother:'A brilliant book...Toibín is a supple, subtle thinker, alive to hints and undertones, wary of absolute truths' Robert Hanks, New Statesman'A penetrating and often very funny inquiry into the fraught complicity between parent and child, brother and sister' Daily Telegraph'Insightful and compassionate, assured and knowledgeable, never less than fascinating. An impressive, fine and engaging collection' Independent on Sunday
THE TOP 10 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER'They cut her hair before they dragged her to the place of sacrifice. Her mouth was gagged to stop her cursing her father, her cowardly, two-tongued father. Nonetheless, they heard her muffled screams.'On the day of his daughter's wedding, Agamemnon orders her sacrifice. His daughter is led to her death, and Agamemnon leads his army into battle, where he is rewarded with glorious victory. Three years later, he returns home and his murderous action has set the entire family - mother, brother, sister - on a path of intimate violence, as they enter a world of hushed commands and soundless journeys through the palace's dungeons and bedchambers. As his wife seeks his death, his daughter, Electra, is the silent observer to the family's game of innocence while his son, Orestes, is sent into bewildering, frightening exile where survival is far from certain. Out of their desolating loss, Electra and Orestes must find a way to right these wrongs of the past even if it means committing themselves to a terrible, barbarous act.House of Names is a story of intense longing and shocking betrayal. It is a work of great beauty, and daring, from one of our finest living writers.
Last year when Garry Hynes asked me to edit a book on Synge, I realised that a great seachange had taken place in relation to his work. Once, he would have been viewed by many readers and writers as an old-fashioned figure whose influence was harmful, whose stage-Irishness was not to be taken seriously. Now, he has become a fascinating and ambiguous genius, whose language is rich with wit and nuance and unpredictability. He worked, as Yeats said, with a living speech, and the way he worked, his ingenuity, his style, has come to mean a lot to contemporary writers. The gap between his own shyness, his quietness and the noise his characters make is a great example of the gap between the being who suffers and the mind which creates. Although he was mild-mannered, he had no respect for current pieties, and he made this part of the fierce and uncompromising energy of his plays. Also, his book on the Aran Islands, so careful, watchful, respectful, is understood by all of us to be a masterpiece. Thus it was not hard to approach writers to contribute a piece on Synge, to help produce a book as varied and unpredictable as Synge's own work. The brief was open - use any form, any length, to pay homage to Synge, or argue with him, or conjure up the writer who has become our contemporary. It meant a lot that we were doing this for the Druid Synge Season - when all six major plays will be presented in repertory for the first time - because the Druid Synge productions over the past quarter century have, more than anything else, been responsible for our fresh understanding of Synge's genius.