This book provides the first overview of classical presences in Anglophone Irish poetry after 1960. Featuring detailed studies of Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, and Eavan Boland, including close readings of key poems, it highlights the evolution of Irish poetic engagements with Greece and Rome in the last sixty years. It outlines the contours of a ‘movement’ which has transformed Irish poetry and accompanied its transition from a postcolonial to a transnational model, from sporadic borrowings of images and myths in the poets’ early attempts to define their own voices, to the multiplication of classical adaptations since the late 1980s -- at first at a time of personal and political crises, notably in Northern Ireland, and more recently, as manifestations of the poets’ engagements with European and other foreign literatures.
Florence Impens is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Manchester, UK. She has previously lived, studied, and worked in France, Ireland, and the United States. Her research interests include Irish Studies, contemporary poetry in English, and reception studies.
“Broad-ranging in its scope and illuminating in its details, The Answering Voice highlights the extraordinarily pervasive yet under-recognized influence of classical literature on Irish poets. Florence Impens’ sensitive and insightful readings demonstrate how Irish poets have exploited classical models to articulate a European voice. With an impressive command of both classical and Irish sources, this important book is a valuable addition to the growing literature on the reception of classical material in Anglophone poetry.” (Isabelle Torrance, Aarhus University, Denmark)
“Examining how Heaney, Longley, Mahon, Boland, and other Irish writers have enriched their poems with the classics, Florence Impens traces their vitally transhistorical and transnational dialogue with antiquity. Judicious and precise, engaging and lucid, her book illuminates the fascinatingly various purposes served by the classics: to claim literary authority, bridge sectarian divisions, ennoble marginality, and renegotiate Irish identity. This excellent study will delight and instruct readers of contemporary Irish poetry.” (Jahan Ramazani, University of Virginia, USA)
“This is a revelatory guide to the animating and central presence of European classical literature in contemporary Irish poetry. With lightly-worn scholarship and critical flair, Florence Impens brilliantly documents the protean ways Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon and Eavan Boland mine Greek and Roman poetry to address the urgencies of personal and public life today. The result is a riveting and informative study of tradition and the individual talent in modern Ireland.” (Hugh Haughton, University of York, UK)
“Providing a comprehensive assessment of the relationship between the classics and contemporary Irish poetry, this is a very important piece of scholarship that will no doubt be used as a reference work by scholars for many years to come.” (Clíona Ní Ríordáin, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3, France)
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