The Figure in the Cave and Other Essays

John Montague, Author Syracuse University Press $17.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-8156-0240-8
``When I was starting out all Irish poets were in a state of stunned isolation, except for Louis MacNeicestet spelling ,'' begins Montague ( The Lost Notebook ). A poet and novelist, Montague was born in Brooklyn but raised in Ireland, attended college in America and has also lived in France. ``The wider an Irishman's experience, the more likely he is to understand his native country,'' he posits persuasively, using three autobiographical essays to lay the foundation of his analyses of Irish literature. He introduces William Carleton (a 19th-century novelist who was ``the first Irish writer to discover the ordinary people of Ireland'') and Denis Devlin (``the most dedicated poet of his generation, and one whose work suggests possibilities for the future''), and takes issue with Thomas Kinsella's editing of a selection of Austin Clarke's poems. Montague's assessments of even canonical works are unique: ``A decade in Cork has convinced me that Ulysses is largely the work of an exiled Corkman, the son of Si Dedalus.'' (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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