What is the origin of the title of Elyn Saks' autobiography?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The title comes from a line in the poem “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, and refers to World War I and the deterioration of Ireland’s cultural and political life during his lifetime (the poem was written in 1919). Yeats is comparing this deterioration to the phenomenon in the...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The title comes from a line in the poem “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, and refers to World War I and the deterioration of Ireland’s cultural and political life during his lifetime (the poem was written in 1919). Yeats is comparing this deterioration to the phenomenon in the sport of falconing when the falcon, flying in a gyre (spiral) flies too far from the falconer to heed his call -- “the center cannot hold.” You might compare it to the collapse of your elaborate plans that become out of your control.   Elyn Saks’ story of schizophrenia, then, tells of her gradual loss of her reason, culminating in her inability to function effectively and thoughts of suicide. The poem’s famous last lines, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last/ Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?” offers a hint at Saks’ own eventual recovery.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team