DESCRIPTION : The Figure in the Cave selects
the prose of one of Ireland's foremost contemporary poets —
part autobiography, part criticism, part self-commentary —
a gathering, from the mid-century to the present day, that marks
a lifetime's critical engagement with literature in both Europe
In the title essay Montague looks
over his career as a writer ; in others he describes a coming-of-age
in Ulster, explores his own poetics, and appraises Goldsmith,
Carleton, George Moore, Joyce and Beckett, MacNeice, Clarke,
Kavanagh, Hewitt and MacDiarmid. Pieces on American literature
include a vignette of Saul Bellow, a review of Lowell and an
intimate sketch of Berryman. To conclude, the author examines
the impact of international modern poetry on Irish writing.
Humorous, forceful, impressionistic,
enriched with personal and political observation, this dialogue
between early and later selves traces the development of the
boy from Garvaghey to the figure in the cave, and reveals the
workings of a fine poet's mind.
John Montague was born in Brooklyn,
New York, in 1929 and raised in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
He studied in Dublin, Yale, Iowa and Berkeley, and in the late
1960s taught in Berkeley and in Paris, from 1974 to 1988 at University
College Cork, and from 1989 at SUNY Albany in the USA. He has
published two works of fiction, Death of a Chieftain (1964)
and The Lost Notebook (1988), as well as some ten collections
of poetry, from Forms of Exile (1958) to Mount Eagle
(1988) and New Selected Poems (1989). In 1974 he edited
The Faber Book of Irish Verse and his anthology Bitter
Harvest appeared in America in 1989.