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Seamus Heaney and the ClassicsBann Valley Muses$
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Stephen Harrison, Fiona Macintosh, and Helen Eastman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805656

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805656.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2019

Speaking Truth to Power

Speaking Truth to Power

Seamus Heaney’s The Burial at Thebes and the Poetry of Redress

(p.98) 8 Speaking Truth to Power
Seamus Heaney and the Classics

Michael Parker

Oxford University Press

A recurrent feature in the last two decades of Seamus Heaney’s literary career was his immersion in classical, particularly Hellenic culture, which in itself sprang from a longstanding interest in literary translation and translating. Until recently relatively little critical attention was paid to Heaney’s role as a translator, due in part to the erroneous assumption that such activity was somehow peripheral to his literary project, rather than a significant element within it. Taking its cue from a contrary view first voiced by Alan Peacock, this essay offers a detailed analysis of The Burial at Thebes, the second of two of Sophocles’ plays adapted by Heaney, evaluating the quality of its poetry, tracing connections between it and Heaney’s other writings, identifying the contexts which helped shape its creation, and citing those crucial instances or clinamen where Heaney diverges from previous translators to forge ‘something new’.

Keywords:   Heaney, Sophocles, Antigone, translation, context

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