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Belfast Diary

Edna Longley: In Belfast

9 January 1992
... swelling Dublin; Northern Ireland; Europe; and – for the intelligentsia – Marxism, Post-Structuralism and all that. Ideological tides often reach Irish shores just as they start to ebb elsewhere. SeamusDeane, General Editor of the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, has constantly applied the Marxist sense of crisis to a ‘political crisis’ whose epicentre is Northern Ireland. FitzPatrick ...

Celtic Revisionism

Patrick Parrinder

24 July 1986
A Short History of Irish Literature 
by Seamus Deane.
Hutchinson, 282 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 09 161360 4
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The Peoples of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £15, April 1986, 9780091561406
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Portrait of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Rainbow, 192 pp., £13.95, May 1986, 1 85120 004 5
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The Complete Dramatic Works 
by Samuel Beckett.
Faber, 476 pp., £12.50, April 1986, 0 571 13821 7
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The Beckett Country: An Exhibition for Samuel Beckett’s 80th Birthday 
by Eoin O’Brien and James Knowlson.
Black Cat, 97 pp., £5, May 1986, 0 948050 03 9
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... context. The current re-examination of notions of Irishness has, as a result, considerable implications for ‘Englishness’ too. For example, what today can we mean by ‘English’ literature? SeamusDeane begins his Short History of Irish Literature by asserting that the term ‘Anglo-Irish’ for the body of writing with which he is concerned is now anachronistic. Deane here is lending powerful ...
9 November 1989
Burke and the Fall of Language: The French Revolution as Linguistic Event 
by Steven Blakemore.
University Press of New England, 115 pp., £10, April 1989, 0 87451 452 5
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The Impact of the French Revolution on European Consciousness 
edited by H.T. Mason and William Doyle.
Sutton, 205 pp., £17.95, June 1989, 0 86299 483 7
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The French Revolution and the Enlightenment in England 1789-1832 
by Seamus Deane.
Harvard, 212 pp., £19.95, November 1988, 0 674 32240 1
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... became a general anti-intellectualism, and his radicalism became a feeble philanthropy. The view expressed by Monied Interest in Dickens’s story ‘The Flight’ might have made an epigraph for SeamusDeane’s The French Revolution and Enlightenment in England. It was Monied Interest who declared that it was ‘quite enough for him that the French are revolutionary – “and always at it” ...
5 September 1985
Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History from 1789 to 1939 
by W.J. McCormack.
Oxford, 423 pp., £27.50, June 1985, 0 19 812806 1
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Across a Roaring Hill 
edited by Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley.
Blackstaff, 258 pp., £10.95, July 1985, 0 85640 334 2
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Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980 
by Seamus Deane.
Faber, 199 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13500 5
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Escape from the Anthill 
by Hubert Butler.
Lilliput, 342 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 946640 00 9
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... consideration of Edmund Burke is exhaustive. Burke, one of the 18th-century figures whose apotheosis was ordained by Yeats, has lately been attracting the attention of academics like McCormack and SeamusDeane, both of whom have written about him in The Crane Bag. Burke’s social observations are worth repeating: Irish cabins, he said, were ‘scarcely distinguishable from the Dunghill’ and the ...

Soft Cop, Hard Cop

Seamus Deane

19 October 1995
Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 355 pp., £18.95, May 1995, 1 85984 932 6
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... Terry Eagleton’s new book, not merely a series of studies in Irish culture but one of the most noteworthy contributions to it of recent times, realigns Irish writing within contemporary debates about cultural politics, adhering to the particularity of the Irish situation without becoming mired in its bitter complexities. There is no master narrative as such, although recurrent themes play a governing ...

Vanishings

Seamus Deane

30 December 1982
Selected Poems 
by John Montague.
Oxford, 189 pp., £5.95, May 1982, 0 19 211950 8
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Ghosts at my Back 
by Tom Rawling.
Oxford, 55 pp., £3.95, June 1982, 0 19 211951 6
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A Late Harvest 
by John Ward.
Peterloo, 48 pp., £3, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... voice becomes disembodied, then is relocated again in the ‘I’ of the narrator. The whole poem, and many others like it, refuses the restful incarnation in the actual which is characteristic of Seamus Heaney. It harnesses energy but does not convert it into something else. its force remains pure, does not become weight. In that respect it is closer to modern French poetry (like that of Bonnefoy or ...

Voices

Seamus Deane

21 April 1983
The Pleasures of Gaelic Poetry 
edited by Sean Mac Reamoinn.
Allen Lane, 272 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 7139 1284 7
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... writers here a strong sense of the predominantly civil music of the English tradition and its inappropriateness to the Irish experience. In saying ‘civil’, I do not mean or imply ‘genteel’. Seamus Heaney, writing of early Irish nature poetry, mentions how it can communicate ‘Little jabs of delight in the elemental’ and distinguishes this from the effect of the bulk (not all) of English ...
23 April 1987
Selected Literary Criticism of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Alan Heuser.
Oxford, 279 pp., £19.50, March 1987, 0 19 818573 1
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... is dubious. I agree with Thomas Kinsella’s view, in his Introduction to The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse (1986), that a ‘Northern Ireland Renaissance’ is ‘largely a journalistic entity’. Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, John Montague, Paul Muldoon, SeamusDeane, Michael Longley and their colleagues are from the North, and they are poets: but they are individual poets, not a school. They are not ...

Blueshirt

Seamus Deane

4 June 1981
Yeats, Ireland and Fascism 
by Elizabeth Cullingford.
Macmillan, 251 pp., £15, February 1981, 0 333 26199 2
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... In July 1933, at the height of his involvement with the Blueshirts, the Irish Fascist organisation, Yeats wrote: ‘It is amusing to live in a country where men will always act. Where nobody is satisfied with thought … The chance of being shot is raising everybody’s spirits enormously.’ However invigorating the prospect, the fulfilment did not come. In Ireland, the Ireland of the Free State ...

Yeats and the Occult

Seamus Deane

18 October 1984
The Mystery Religion of W.B. Yeats 
by Graham Hough.
Harvester, 129 pp., £15.95, May 1984, 0 7108 0603 5
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Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry 
by Cairns Craig.
Croom Helm, 323 pp., £14.95, January 1982, 9780856649974
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Yeats. Poems 1919-1935: A Selection of Critical Essays 
edited by Elizabeth Cullingford.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £14, July 1984, 0 333 27422 9
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The Poet and his Audience 
by Ian Jack.
Cambridge, 198 pp., £20, July 1984, 0 521 26034 5
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A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 543 pp., £35, May 1984, 0 333 35214 9
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Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 428 pp., £17, August 1984, 0 333 36213 6
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... The first three of the four chapters in Graham Hough’s book were the Lord Northcliffe Lectures in Literature given at University College London in February 1983. The audience was general and the lectures were pitched accordingly. Yet all Yeatsian specialists will profit from this book and the ‘radical simplification’ of Yeats’s occult philosophy which it so lucidly achieves. Professor Hough ...

Ultimate Place

Seamus Deane

16 March 1989
Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage 
by Tim Robinson.
Viking, 298 pp., £12.95, February 1989, 0 670 82485 2
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... When it was first published in Ireland in 1986, Stones of Aran won a literary prize and a great deal of praise. It is a strange book, at once a meditation on and a journey around the island of Aran off the west coast of Ireland. The meditation takes its form from the journey, as does the journey from the meditation. Although the island itself, in all its coastal detail, its geology, history, folklore ...

Ireland at Swim

Denis Donoghue

21 April 1983
The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, 1977-1981 
edited by M.P. Hederman and R. Kearney, with a preface by Seamus​ Heaney.
Blackwater Press/Colin Smythe, 930 pp., £25, October 1982, 9780905471136
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A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers 
by Hugh Kenner.
Knopf, 352 pp., $16.95, April 1983, 0 394 42225 2
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... inescapably political. They could hardly do otherwise, living in Dublin since the violence started up again in Northern Ireland in 1968. Several of their colleagues are from the North: the poets Seamus Heaney, SeamusDeane, John Montague, Michael Longley. Deane, especially, has been important to them, arguing about Irish literature and the question of tradition, the North, the two languages, the ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather

9 January 1992
The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... if it is possible – Field Day think it isn’t – to distinguish between the two categories): indeed, this anthology has for some years past been heralded as the major Field Day intervention. SeamusDeane explains the imagined significance of the anthology: ‘It is important to do this now because the political crisis in Ireland, precipitated in 1968, but in gestation for many years before that ...

Extremes

Seamus Deane

7 February 1985
Children of the Dead End: The Rat-Pit 
by Patrick MacGill.
Caliban, 305 pp., £10, September 1983, 0 904573 36 2
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The Red Horizon The Great Push: An Episode of the Great War 
by Patrick MacGill.
Caliban, 306 pp., £9, October 1984, 0 904573 90 7
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The Navy Poet: The Collected Poetry of Patrick MacGill 
Caliban, 407 pp., £12, October 1984, 0 904573 99 0Show More
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... In 1914 Patrick MacGill’s first novel, Children of the Dead End, sold ten thousand copies in a fortnight. In the same year, Joyce’s Dubliners sold 499 copies, 120 of them bought by the author. In 1915, MacGill published a companion novel, The Rat-Pit, which was also highly successful and contained a Preface in which the author avowed himself to be ‘highly gratified’ by the success attained ...
5 September 1996
Reading in the Dark 
by Seamus Deane.
Cape, 233 pp., £13.99, September 1996, 0 224 04405 2
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... understood the words. This story is told by the narrator’s Aunt Katie in Reading in the Dark. Its resemblance to The Turn of the Screw can scarcely be an accident, given the care and extent of SeamusDeane’s own reading, in the dark and elsewhere. But there is another way of looking at the resemblance. It is possible that Aunt Katie and the narrator within James’s story are both in touch with ...

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