cover image Seamus Heaney's Regions

Seamus Heaney's Regions

Richard Rankin Russell. Univ. of Notre Dame, $55 trade paper (536p) ISBN 978-0-268-04036-9

In this study of Heaney's Northern Irish regionalism, Baylor University English professor Russell (Poetry and Peace) neatly traces the impact of the author's Ulster roots across his poetry, politics, culture, and spirituality. Russell delves into the political and cultural implications of a divided Ireland, noting that Heaney was an optimist%E2%80%94always imagining "a new region of Northern Ireland," healed and undivided. In addition to insightful readings of the poems, Russell illuminates the role that Heaney's essays, book reviews, translations, and radio dramas played in shaping his public image. In one highlights of the book, Russell analyzes Heaney's use of the Dantean terza rima, which he employed partly to move past connotations with Northern Ireland and into "the region of eternity." Turning again to his translations and dramas, Russell explains how Heaney used the historical example in The Cure at Troy to suggest a miraculous solution to Northern Ireland's conflicts. After 1990, Heaney developed a subtle "second strand of regionalism" that focused on envisioning a new Northern Ireland and understanding the spirit world. A substantial and magisterial work of literary criticism, Russell's volume stands as a valuable companion to Heaney's writing. (June)