Desmond's close readings of individual poems... reveal intertextual appropriations from the classics, Karl Jung, and visual art as well as Heaney's nuanced depiction of "the Troubles."... Recommended.
Gravity and Grace: Seamus Heaney and the Force of Lightby John F. Desmond
In this thoughtful and carefully argued book, John Desmond uncovers Christian and transcendent elements in Seamus Heaney's poetry by reading it through the intellectual perspectives of the well-known poet Czeslaw Milosz and the French philosopher Simone Weil. Weil was a powerful influence on Milosz's thought and writing; Milosz, in turn, exercised considerable
In this thoughtful and carefully argued book, John Desmond uncovers Christian and transcendent elements in Seamus Heaney's poetry by reading it through the intellectual perspectives of the well-known poet Czeslaw Milosz and the French philosopher Simone Weil. Weil was a powerful influence on Milosz's thought and writing; Milosz, in turn, exercised considerable influence on Heaney's thought and poetry. Desmond utilizes these connections in order to show the way Weil's thought about Christianity and transcendence illuminates Heaney's complex relationship with Christianity. Desmond's sensitive readings of Heaney's poems through this new lens reveal previously unexplored depths in the work of the Nobel Prize-winning poet.
Baylor University Press
"These are priceless lectures. Drawing from the spiritual wells of contemporary visionaries, Yoder unmasks the redemptive power of reconciliation."
--Daniel G. Groody, Department of Theology, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
What People are saying about this
Gravity keeps John Desmond’s work always rooted in the earthy particulars of Heaney’s poetry—personal, political, historical, and textual. And grace makes his study illuminating and exhilarating to read. Using the writing of Simone Weil as a crucial intertext, Desmond, like Heaney himself, writes at the crossroads where necessity and mystery, the mundane and the numinous, come into contact with and complicate each other.
In this excellent study, the author makes his case with passionate moral conviction and a lucid and reliable critical intelligence.
In Gravity and Grace: Seamus Heaney and the Force of Light, John Desmond turns his brilliance away from Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy to Seamus Heaney, Simone Weil, and their literary nexus, Czeslaw Milosz. Against the flattening forces of gravity in our times, Desmond turns to Heaney to find Weil’s metaxu, the realm between immanence and transcendence, the glimpsed but evanescent world, that stands always in the quotidian world, but that more than ever needs the poet’s voice and vision to make it known and experienced. Desmond’s readings of Heaney’s poetic oeuvre are marked with awe and humility, and they are themselves the force of light brought to awareness in love.
Meet the Author
John F. Desmond (Ph.D. University of Oklahoma) is Mary A. Denny Emeritus Professor of English, Whitman College. He serves on the board of advisors for the Flannery O'Connor Society, and the editorial board of Literature and Belief. His publications include Walker Percy's Search for Community (2004), At the Crossroads: Ethical and Religious Themes in the Writings of Walker Percy (1997), and Risen Sons: Flannery O'Connor's Vision of History (1987).
Baylor University Press
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