Review by Choice Review
Those approaching Heaney's poetry for the first time will find this an excellent explication of the poet's craft and genius. Using Erik Erikson's concepts of identity and identity crisis, Collins sees Heaney's poetry negotiating and reflecting the difficulties of identity formation, self-understanding, and self-acceptance in a culture riven by a history of sectarian conflict. Like Eugene O'Brien--whose recent Seamus Heaney and the Place of Writing (CH, Sep'03) also discusses the theme of identity in Heaney's poetry in relation to land, language, culture, and history--Collins argues that Heaney's self-discovery is a triumph of self-making; but O'Brien's use of Derrida and Levinas to frame the identity concept generates deeper, richer and more complex readings than Collins's use of Erikson, and Collins's interpretation of Heaney's mature aesthetic as a "poetics of transcendence" is not as convincing as O'Brien's discussion of the "transformative" effects of the same works. But if Collins does not add anything fundamentally new to the way one reads Heaney, the detailed background information, extended close readings, and remarkably expressive descriptions of specific effects of Heaney's style make this a very useful and enjoyable introduction to the poet. ^BSumming Up: Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. D. R. McCarthy Huron University College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.