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Seamus Heaney: An Introduction

A Book Cover

Richard Rankin Russell, Professor of English

This study will enable readers to gain clearer understanding of the life and major works of Seamus Heaney. It considers literary influences on Heaney, ranging from English poets such as Wordsworth, Hughes, and Auden to Irish poets such as Kavanagh and Yeats to world poets such as Virgil and Dante. It shows how Heaney was closely attuned to poetry's impact on daily life and current events even as he articulated a convincing apologia for poetry's own life and integrity. Discussing Heaney's deep immersion in Irish Catholicism, this book demonstrates how faith influenced his belief system, poetry and politics. Finally, it also considers how deeply Heaney's artistic endeavours were intertwined with politics in Northern Ireland, especially through his embrace of constitutional nationalism but rejection of physical force republicanism.


"Those just embarking on a study of the poetry of Heaney could find no more capable or enthusiastic guide than Russell, who is an astute reader of individual poems, yet one who strikes a balance between close reading and tracing the sweep of Heaney's poetry." -- Ashby Bland Crowder, New Hibernia Review

Edinburgh UP, 2016  ISBN 9781474401654