Sunday, December 28, 2008

Afterimages of Life

TLS December 19 & 26 2008

Karl Miller reviews Dennis O'Driscoll's Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney:

God is no longer dead, at all events, as Heaney may have been moved, with his generation, to wonder in the 1960s. The poet sees ghosts, and his poetry, when it began in him, was experienced as a "redemptive grace". There is, if not an afterlife, an "afterimage of life".

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[Heaney:] "The dark matter of the news headlines needed to get into Field Work, but the light I was hoping for is the kind that derives from clarity of expression, from plainer speaking . . . ".

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Neil Forsyth reviews Nigel Smith's Is Milton better than Shakespeare?

The "gums of gluttonous heat" that make the Lady stick to her chair in Comus Smith describes as "frankly, spermatic", which is taken to be a sign of Milton's inability to confront sexual issues directly. But Smith soon follows this up with the interesting fact that Milton changed "joyfully" to "jollily" in one of the divorce tracts because "joys" connote sperm. This may actually be right.


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