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Crediting marvels in Seamus Heaney's Seeing things
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This is a study of the Irish, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney's Seeing Things, (1991), a volume which marks a turning point in Heaney's writing. From an earlier concern with the outer physicality of things, Heaney turns with deepened awareness to the inner landscapes of the mind, where the thingness of things is explored and expressed in language. The dissertation examines this new departure in the light of what Heidegger terms a call to "primordial authenticity," which is uncovered in the everydayness of things and given voice in the poetic utterance. The focus of this thesis differs from previous scholarship in that it sets out to make a detailed analysis of the whole volume of Seeing Things and takes as its starting point a Heideggerian approach, where the basic concept of "being-in-the-world" is understood in terms of the belonging together of self and world. I examine how this interrelation manifests itself in Heaney's poetry. Heidegger rejects the transcendental subject as a starting point, and begins instead from an understanding of the immanent "givenness" of human existence. These ideas are thus used to explore the poetry of Seeing Things. In addition to Heidegger, this study is also influenced by the writings of Hans-Georg Gadamer. Gadamer's theoretical approach with its concern for what he calls the "fusion of horizons", is especially useful in studying Heaney's poetry, where a strong sense of dialectic movement is evident between opposing forces.

Using these ideas of Heidegger and Gadamer, I trace a thematic Dantean quest for understanding in Seeing Things, and explore how, in the context of this journey, thresholds are crossed in a constant Heraclitean flow between the forces of fixity and flux. The study also traces various other binaries, such as absence and presence, speech and silence, which are part of our experience of being-in-the-world. I show how these oppositions are brought together in a poetics of understanding. Such experiences of awareness are seen as moments of epiphany, or what Gadamer calls "a shattering and demolition of the familiar." Thus, central to this study is an understanding of the mystery and power of language, and of how poetry acts as a transforming vision of reality, or in the Heideggerian sense, as a proclamation of the holy that takes the "mysterious measure" of things.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1999. , 219 p.
Studia Anglistica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0562-2719 ; 107
Keyword [en]
English language
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-980ISBN: 91-554-4481-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-980DiVA: diva2:173319
Public defence
1999-05-29, Ihresalen, Språkvetenskapligt centrum, Villavägen 4, Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:00
Available from: 1999-05-08 Created: 1999-05-08Bibliographically approved

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