Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Interview with the Late Seamus Heaney

HEANEY: The Heaneys were aristocrats, in the sense that they took for granted a code of behavior that was given and unspoken. Argumentation, persuasion, speech itself, for God's sake, just seemed otiose and superfluous to them. Either you were an initiate in the code or you weren't. It had to do with their rural background, with the unspoken Gaelic thing that was still vestigially there.

INTERVIEWER: Did they speak Gaelic? 

HEANEY: No, not at all. The Irish language hadn't been spoken in that part of Ulster for a century or two. But it sometimes seems to me that the gene pool in the Bann Valley hasn't been disturbed for a couple of thousand years. 

INTERVIEWER: Were there books in the house? 

HEANEY: Not many. The book environment was in my Aunt Sarah's house. She had trained as a schoolteacher in the 1920s and had got herself a library of sorts. She had a complete set of Hardy's novels, for example, and an early three-volume edition of Yeats's works—plays, stories and poems. (Read more.)

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