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Lady Gregory's Toothbrush: A Life
 
 

Lady Gregory's Toothbrush: A Life [Kindle Edition]

Colm Toibin
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Review

'Biographical portraits are too often nowadays smudged in a surfeit of words... this one is a brilliant illumination' Spectator

Review

'Biographical portraits are too often nowadays smudged in a surfeit of words... this one is a brilliant illumination' Spectator

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 790 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The Lilliput Press (1 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006ZOYMRC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #189,763 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of six novels including The Blackwater Lightship, The Master both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize and Brooklyn which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Costa Novel Award, and an earlier collection of stories, Mothers and Sons.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Biography on a vital figure 14 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Lady Gregory's Toothbrush by Colm Toibin centers on the life of Augusta Gregory (1852 to 1932, Galway, Ireland). Lady Gregory, she got her title when she married Sir William Gregory, thirty five years her senior,one time governor of Ceylon and considered to have been instrumental in passing laws while a member of parliament that made the fates of the Irish peasants much worse during the famine years. Gregory, partially thorough and maybe largely through her contact with William Butler Yeats and John M. Synge, came to idolize and romanticize those same peasants while never abandoning the sense of entitlement her marriage gave her. She is sometimes seen as a hypocritcal figure who spoke of her love for freedom and her wish for a better life for the peasants of Ireland while clinging to her big house, her Anglo-Irish money and her view of real life ordinary Irish people outside of her small circle as unwashed people who mostly did not own toothbrushes.

Lady Gregory helped found and directed the famous Abby Theater in London. Toibin does a great job of explaining why this theater was very important in the creation of a sense of Irish identity through plays like The Playboy of the Western World by John Synge. When the play was first preformed there were riots at the Abby Theater, partially caused by references to Irish women in "shifts" and by its seeming portrayal of the Irish as loving violence country buffoons . Lady Gregory, as Toibin explains it, referred to the conflict over this play as the battle between those who use a toothbrush, the play's supporters, and those who do not. Like many an aristocrat who cry out their love for the common man, she liked them best in plays and stories.

Toibin help me greatly to understand the importance of Lady Gregory to Irish Theater.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Used but not good condition. 6 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
All other parts of the book fine, but their is writing on appox 3/4 of the book.
This to my memory is was not outlined. Shame your postage was first class.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arrogance vs. ambiguity 24 Jun 2006
By John L Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The tension of the Anglo-Irish, Toibin argues, can be charted in Lady Gregory's own life, as she negotiated the difficult balancing act of a Coole landowner hosting balls for British nobles before going off to her next social engagement, a tea party for the ladies in the local workhouse. Speaking of the latter, the infamous if well-intended Famine-era "Gregory Act" enacted by her family, that pushed off so many from their small plot of land into emigration, ironically making the conditions for those who remained behind in Ireland better off, is delved into efficiently. Toibin, with sympathy but not apology, notes how she, no less than Pearse, Joyce, O'Casey, Synge, Hyde, Gonne, or Yeats during the period from 1890-1925 (for those among the Revival who managed to live through the Rising and the subsequent strife), had to constantly reinvent and embroider and disguise her contested Irish identity. This extended essay, more a monograph than a full-fledged book, briefly sums up the general trajectory of how the rise of the Free State paralled the life and successes of the coterie led in no small part not only by the more prominent and grandstanding Yeats but also by Lady G.

It's not recommended for those who may be unfamiliar with "The Countess Cathleen," for example, or the plays put on by Yeats, her, and their colleagues/rivals for the Abbey Theatre. While a well-chosen list of primary sources and scholarship is appended, no footnotes are given, and Toibin seems to expect his readers to be already familiar with the Irish political, cultural and literary currents of the early 20c. Little description of her writings and no literary analysis to speak of can be found here. Rather, Toibin seeks to uncover what the title of the book indicates: the gap that Lady G. sought to close but never fully could...between those like Lady G. who used a toothbrush, to cite her bon mot--that is, who were civilized, and those--such as the peasants that she alternately romanticized, ministered to, and ridiculed--who had no such dentifrice.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars OK nonprofessional biography 3 Jan 2007
By allthatfall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Toíbín has performed considerable primary research often in the unpublished manuscripts either by or about Lady Gregory, and he combines this work with detailed research into the lives of the writers who were associated first with her husband and later with herself. Indeed, Toíbín's essay is best when he follows his journalistic instincts to collate the scattered information that allows him to enrich our knowledge of Gregory's lesser known social and artistic associations: her husband's friendship with Anthony Trollop, her social encounters with Henry James and Queen Victoria, or her failed efforts to befriend James Joyce.

These strengths notwithstanding, Toíbín is rarely able to discuss Gregory's life without subordinating it to other, often patriarchal, narratives which are portrayed as conditioning her activities; thus, we see her as Sir William's wife, Blunt's mistress, Yeats' long-suffering `helpmeet', Synge's reluctant defender, John Quinn's lover, Robert Gregory's mother, and O'Casey's soulmate. This reluctance to consider Gregory as in herself a subject worthy of direct analysis extends to her career as well: while Toíbín devotes considerable attention to the private love sonnets written for Blunt in the 1880s, in an argument that positions her squarely within a male economy of marital duty and adulterous desire, he largely ignores her successful literary career in the twentieth century. There are exceptions to this general criticism, as in his insightful discussion of her Cuchulain of Muirthemne; nonetheless, the reader has few views of Gregory beyond her social functions as theatre manager, literary patroness, and social dowager. Of her thirty-seven works produced during her lifetime, Toíbín discusses only the early drama co-written with Yeats and very briefly mentions three later plays. It is telling that Toíbín devotes ten percent of his work, roughly twelve pages, to the discussion of Yeats' poetry about Gregory or her estate, while spending a mere seven pages on only three works by her: the aforementioned sonnets to Blunt, her Cathleen Ni Houlihan co-authored with Yeats, and Cuchulain of Muirthemne.

Unfortunately, the refinement of Toíbín's arguments is significantly hindered by his failure to avail himself of the important contributions of the last twenty years; indeed, he lists the largely biographical collection Lady Gregory: Fifty Years After (1987) edited by Ann Saddlemyer as the book's only critical source for Gregory's career. Thus, even at their best, his interpretative expositions lack the rigour and refinement that would have come from a familiarity with the recent critical arguments that frequently pre-empt his own. For example, Toíbín's treatment of Gregory's sexual, political, and artistic awakening through her encounter with Wilfrid Scawen Blunt is central to his explanation of her development in the late nineteenth century, yet his work lacks the scope and insight of Declan Kiberd's treatment of this topic in Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation which appeared in 1997. Similarly, though Toíbín may be forgiven for not having consulted John Wilson Foster's thorough discussion of the historical context for Gregory's Cuchulain of Muirthemne, as well as her other translations of medieval Irish narrative, in his Fictions of the Irish Literary Renaissance (1987), the same cannot be said for Toíbín's failure to benefit from the introduction and thorough bibliography in the widely available Selected Writings of Lady Gregory, which appeared in 1995. Although barely one third the length of Toíbín's book, this introductory essay by Lucy McDiarmid and Maureen Waters covers several topics later discussed by Toíbín and skilfully surveys the major biographical and interpretative issues that have concerned recent criticism.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Candid Historian 19 Feb 2009
By F. Tom Dory - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have read just about everything that I've found available (in English) of Colm Toibin. As the list of books has grown, I've come to appreciate his candor and writing skills. I appreciated Lady Gregory's Toothbrush because of this refreshing presentation of history. Toibin's connecting of historical persons was delightful since this doesn't often seem to be done (and done so extremely well) by many other authors. Lady Gregory was a real 'corker' to use a bit of slang, someone I just might have enjoyed knowing. I hope some day to connect with Colm Toibin. If his writing style is anything at all like he speaks, he would certainly be more than a delight as someone with whom to spend time!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who uses toothbrushes? 11 Dec 2012
By Margaret Dunlop - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Very interesting for a Yeats fan-or someone into Irish history C19-20.
Very well written,as Toibin readers would expect of him.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written biography 20 Mar 2014
By Sinead de Burca - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have long been interested in Irish History, particularly during the fight for Independence. Although I've read many books on the subject, many of which make mention of Lady Gregory, I knew little about her. Colm Toibin did a great job of making her story accessible and full of life.
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