Since his death in 1963, Louis MacNeice's critical standing has risen steadily. This new study addresses the contexts of MacNeice's writings which are of greatest relevance to his place in modern poetry: his problematic, and still controversial relationship with Ireland and his significance for the understanding of the largely English `thirties generation' with which he is often identified. The influence of these contexts upon the nature of MacNeice's poetic
development is studied in detail here together with the important questions of his relation to Yeats and Modernism. The book examines MacNeice's conception of parable as key imaginative response to these
influences, and it includes the first study of the poet's revealing and little-known early writings. Peter McDonald demonstrates that MacNeice is a central figure in modern Irish and British poetry of greater substantial complexity than is often thought, and suggests that his through his work we should see its contexts in a challenging new light.
`excellent book ... McDonald backs up any polemical thrust, or his own agenda, with a thorough scrutiny of the shifting relation between MacNeice's aesthetic and its historical environment.'
Edna Longley, Irish Times
'A well-written book that sticks to its subject. Excellent bibliography and useful index. Recommended for graduate students and upper-level undergraduates ... a fine study and deserves to be in strong collections.'
W.J. Martz, Ripon College, CHOICE, Feb '92
'This excellent, jargon-free study establishes that MacNeice's themes of 'the problematic understanding of the self, time's subversion of history and the individual' are significant philosophically, existentially, artistically and politically.'
Angus Calder, Open University, The W.H. Auden Society Newsletter, No. 8, December 1991
'Peter McDonald;s book begins with an admirably lucid disentangling of canonical traditions.'
Bernard O'Donoghue, Magdalen College, Essays in Criticism, Vol. XLII, April 1993, No. 2
'The value of this study lies in McDonald's tenacious following of MacNeice's themes to make a much more coherent body of work than is generally perceived, while never sacrificing coherence to false consistency.'
Robyn Marsack, MLR, 8.2, 1993
'Through careful, impressively detailed reconstructions of the literary and political climates of the early and late 1930s, the war years, and the post-war period in Britain, he convincingly rescues MacNeice from the conventional critical estimates of his work ... When ... as in his study of the remarkable late poems, McDonald gets down to sustained analyses of those poems he unreservedly admires in their own complex right, as it were, he establishes
himself as one of MacNeice's most astute critics.'
Terence Brown, University of Dublin, Review of English Studies, Vol. 44, No. 176, Nov '93