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Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney Paperback – March 30, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374531935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374531935
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. There is no shortage of writing by or about Nobel Prize–winning Irish poet Heaney. Yet this big book is a unique and useful addition to the Heaney canon: beginning in 2001, the Dublin-based poet, essayist and anthologist O'Driscoll entered into an extended correspondence with Heaney for the purpose of collaboratively constructing a kind of autobiography-in-interviews. The result is a collection of 16 discreet interviews, the first two of which discuss Heaney's childhood and poetic growth. Then there is one interview-chapter for each of Heaney's celebrated books (except the last two, which are grouped together), followed by a summing up. In conversation, Heaney comes across as extremely friendly, expansively intelligent and in possession of the groundedness in the details of his environment that readers of his poems will be familiar with. Here are boyhood recollections (Our travelling grocery van... was run first by a man called McCarney, but 'the egg man' was our name for him), memories of the famous Belfast Group and accounts of coming-of-age, and then coming to international prominence, against the backdrop of Ireland's troubled 20th-century politics. And, of course, Heaney traces the events—both political and personal—that led to many of his poems. For fans of Heaney, of 20th-century Irish literature or anyone eager to get deep into the mind of a major artist, this is an essential book. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

This really is a remarkable book. There isn't a dull, vapid or useless sentence in it; it's about what it is to be human, as much as it is about what it is to be a poet. (Nicholas Lezard The Guardian)

[Stepping Stones] is a Heaney word horde that will not be surpassed for some time . . . [It] will be seized on by students of the work as well as the common reader . . . [Heaney] is intensely present within these pages--still surprising, still defying 'the merciless landscapes' with generosity, courage and joy. (Bel Mooney The Times (London))

[An] important book-length interview, designed to serve in lieu of a memoir . . . Dennis O'Driscoll [is] an excellent poet and critic, and a deeply informed and probing interviewer of his longtime friend. (Adam Kirsch The New Republic)

Stepping Stones succeeds on many levels, and O'Driscoll's intelligent probing to go beyond Seamus Heaney the public figure to the inner man, to the essential inner poet, is masterful. (Katherine Bailey Star Tribune (Minneapolis))

These 'linked interviews,' as O'Driscoll calls them, set out to trace, book by book, the contours of Heaney's writing life and the events and memories that inform it. To a great degree, they succeed. (Sean O'Hagan The Observer (London))

Customer Reviews

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Give it to yourself to grow in love and in wisdom, but read it!
C. Scanlon
It's a series of questions and answers put to Mr. Heaney by Dennis O'Driscoll, a very talented writer in his own right.
Jean Cork
The world just lost one of its most thoughtful poets when Seamus Heaney died just a couple of weeks ago.
Rebecca L. Briley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. Scanlon VINE VOICE on December 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We welcome the arrival of this thick (over five hundred pages) collection of interviews with Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney conducted over the past decade by Dublin civil servant, poet and essayist Dennis O'Driscoll, who describes his interviewing role thus: "My own role here is that of prompter rather than interrogator -the book was in no sense envisaged to be a 'tell all' account of Seamus Healey's life. ( . . .Yet)The only stipulation made at the outset by the poet was that he would not engage in detailed analytical discussion of individual poems. ( . . .)This book does not pretend to be an authorized 'reader's guide' to Seamus Healey's poems as reference points. It offers a biographical context for the poems and a poetry-based account of the life. It reviews the life by re-viewing it from the perspective of Heaney's late sixties: a life which has itself been monitored - sometimes almost as closely as his books have been reviewed - by critics and
journalists (Introduction, pp. xi, xii)."

With those caveats this massive work goes on to explore freely all of the above and more.

If you wish a profound, technical, thematic examination of the earlier works of Heaney (up to 1998 and The Spirit Level) you do very well to read carefully the much briefer (not 200 small pages) work of the great critic and professor Helen Vendler in Seamus Heaney.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jean Cork on February 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I happened to be writing a paper on Seamus Heaney, the contemporary Irish poet, for my literary club. There is no official "biography" as such but this is better! It's a series of questions and answers put to Mr. Heaney by Dennis O'Driscoll, a very talented writer in his own right. It is anything but dry, as so many biographies are. I really feel that I "know" Mr. Heaney now. Mr. O'Driscoll is a skilled interviewer and asks questions I never would have thought of. The book is fairly long and took several years to write but is so interesting that it's a fast read. I really really liked this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Scanlon VINE VOICE on December 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
We welcome the arrival of this thick (over five hundred pages) collection of interviews with Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney conducted over the past decade by Dublin civil servant, poet and essayist Dennis O'Driscoll, who describes his interviewing role thus: "My own role here is that of prompter rather than interrogator -the book was in no sense envisaged to be a 'tell all' account of Seamus Healey's life. ( . . .Yet)The only stipulation made at the outset by the poet was that he would not engage in detailed analytical discussion of individual poems. ( . . .)This book does not pretend to be an authorized 'reader's guide' to Seamus Healey's poems as reference points. It offers a biographical context for the poems and a poetry-based account of the life. It reviews the life by re-viewing it from the perspective of Heaney's late sixties: a life which has itself been monitored - sometimes almost as closely as his books have been reviewed - by critics and journalists (Introduction, pp. xi, xii)."

With those caveats this massive work goes on to explore freely all of the above and more.

If you wish a profound, technical, thematic examination of the earlier works of Heaney (up to 1998 and The Spirit Level) you do very well to read carefully the much briefer (not 200 small pages) work of the great critic and professor Helen Vendler in Seamus Heaney.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
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Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney
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