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Small World
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Book description

Seamus Deane was one of the most vital and versatile authors of our time. Small World presents an unmatched survey of Irish writing, and of writing about Irish issues, from 1798 to the present day. Elegant, polemical, and incisive, it addresses the political, aesthetic, and cultural dimensions of several notable literary and historical moments, and monuments, from the island's past and present. The style of Swift; the continuing influence of Edmund Burke's political thought in the USA; the echoing debates about national character; aspects of Joyce's and of Elizabeth Bowen's relation to modernism; memories of Seamus Heaney; analysis of the representation of Northern Ireland in Anna Burns's fiction – these topics constitute only a partial list of the themes addressed by a volume that should be mandatory reading for all those who care about Ireland and its history. The writings included here, from one of Irish literature's most renowned critics, have individually had a piercing impact, but they are now collectively amplified by being gathered together here for the first time between one set of covers. Small World: Ireland, 1798–2018 is an indispensable collection from one of the most important voices in Irish literature and culture.

Reviews

'Seamus Deane was one of our greatest critics, sharp of mind and fearless in opinion. As this superb collection demonstrates, he had the large world of literature, and of Irish and Anglo-Irish literature in particular, secure within his frame of reference - there was no finer master of the art of close reading. Nothing small here, only the broadest view and the deepest insight. Ave magister.'

John Banville

'Over several decades Seamus Deane revolutionized the study of Irish literature and culture, and his critical innovations also helped to shape the fields of postcolonial and transnational studies. Combining theoretical brio with a scrupulous historical sense and dazzling breadth of learning, his distinctive voice - suave, wry, sinuous, incisive - made his pioneering insights unforgettable. Small World brings together some of Deane's most influential essays and adds exciting new work, especially on Irish women writers.'

Maud Ellmann - University of Chicago

'He was a product of a grand European tradition, now disappearing from the scene, in which the critic might at the same time be an intellectual. The combination in Deane’s case has leant a seriousness to his work that is unmatched among the burgeoning commentariat. Small World offers a panoramic overview of his development, exhibiting his sympathies and accomplishments. The book contains a compelling blend of history and criticism, marshalling Deane’s finespun amalgamation of disinterestedness and passion.'

Richard Bourke Source: Dublin Review of Books

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