Ciaran Carson is one of the most challenging and inventive of contemporary Irish writers, exhibiting verbal brilliance, formal complexity, and intellectual daring across a remarkably varied body of work. This study considers the full range of his oeuvre, in poetry, prose, and translations, and discusses the major themes to which he returns, including: memory and history, narrative, language and translation, mapping, violence, and power. It argues that the singularity of Carson’s writing is to be found in his radical imaginative engagements with ideas of space and place. The city of Belfast, in particular, occupies a crucially important place in his texts, serving as an imaginative focal point around which his many other concerns are constellated. The city, in all its volatile mutability, is an abiding frame of reference and a reservoir of creative impetus for Carson’s imagination. Accordingly, the book adopts an interdisciplinary approach that draws upon geography, urbanism, and cultural theory as well as literary criticism. It provides both a stimulating and thorough introduction to Carson’s work, and a flexible critical framework for exploring literary representations of space. An Open Access edition of this work is available on the OAPEN Library.
Neal Alexander lectures in English at the University of Nottingham. He is the co-editor (with Shane Murphy and Anne Oakman) of 'To the Other Shore: Cross-currents in Irish and Scottish Studies' (Queen's University Belfast, 2004).
A model of its kind, easily the best thing on Carson, and one of the finest recent books on any Irish poet. It blends theory and close reading very well, and wears its learning lightly and stylishly.
This book will be of interest to scholars of Irish literature and politics, as well those interested in the growing field of the interactions between literature and geography. It is, furthermore, a book that marks the continuing relevance of the spatial turn in literary theory and the theoretical turn in Irish studies.
Review of English Studies
Through its comprehensive coverage of Carson’s proliferating oeuvre, its meticulous research and carefully nuanced argumentation, Ciaran Carson: Space, Place, Writing makes a significant contribution to the consolidation and development of theoretical and critical thinking about Carson in particular, and contemporary Northern Ireland poetry more generally.
The introduction offers a great deal of useful background information that will be beneficial for those new to Carson. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
Choice, Vol. 48, No. 19
Alexander’s book, judiciously focused, thoroughly researched and finely produced, has set an agenda for future critical discussion of Carson.
Peter Denman, Irish Studies Review, 20.2