On Seamus Heaney: Insightful and accessible study

Roy Foster gives a fluent account of beloved poet with illuminating analysis of his work

 Seamus Heaney and Roy Foster: Foster is alert to the burden of writing about a poet with whom so many readers have an intimate relationship. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Seamus Heaney and Roy Foster: Foster is alert to the burden of writing about a poet with whom so many readers have an intimate relationship. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

On Seamus Heaney is part of the Princeton University Press Writers on Writers series. Designed to be accessible, the books differ in tone and format from more weighty academic tomes. Foster, the author of a two-volume biography of Yeats, is aware of the challenge of the shorter form and alert to the burden of writing about a poet with whom so many readers have an intimate relationship.

Foster establishes an empathetic framework in the preface, recounting his affinity with particular Heaney poems, relating how “the hairs stood up on his head” when he read North, drawing his circle of readers closer by declaring that Heaney’s work provided a “permanent resource” for readers’ lives.

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