For a number of years Robin Skelton has been a major interpreter and definer of what we now mean by Anglo-Irish literature. This collection represents his own selection of fourteen of his best essays. All have been revised, several enlarged, and two are published here for the first time.
Two major themes emerge from this collection: verse craftsmanship, with the language and structure of poetry; and a concern with the way that a writer can contrive to bring contraries (personal, national, aesthetic, etc.) together, fusing all the writer’s themes and techniques into unity, so as to present a coherent, all-embracing “philosophy” or attitude. Most of the essays move from quite specific discussions of texts to broader generalizations about style and content in Irish writing.
As always, Skelton is an extraordinarily alert and careful reader, and some of these essays contain
valuable close readings of specific poems. In addition, he has the ability to draw the significant particulars into meaningful accounts of the totality of an artist’s achievement. Time after time, Skelton simply makes one see new things, even in the most familiar texts, and his essays offer valuable insights both for the scholar and for the general reader of Irish literature.
Robin Skelton is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Victoria. Author of numerous
books, including The Writing of J. M. Synge and his autobiographical Memoirs of a Literary Blockhead, he has edited many other works, including The Collected Plays of Jack B. Yeats and the Penguin Modern Classic Poetry of the Thirties. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Series: Irish Studies
6 x 9, 270 pages