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The Sea of Disappointment
Thomas Kinsella's Pursuit of the Real

Andrew Fitzsimons (author)
Paperback / softback,
Publication date:
6th May 2008

Author Biography

ANDREW FITZSIMONS is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. He is currently an Associate Professor at Gakushuin University, Tokyo.


Considered to be one of the most inventive of the contemporary Irish poets, Thomas Kinsella is credited with bringing modernism to Irish verse. Kinsella uses sensitive language to deal with primal aspects of the human experience. His early writing, "Poems" (1956) and "Another September" (1958) established him as a new voice in Irish poetry. The peak of Kinsella's success came with the founding of the Peppercanister Press and the publication of "Butcher's Dozen" in 1972.Despite such early successes, however, Kinsella seems to have faded into the background of the Irish poetic stage. In "The Sea of Disappointment", Andrew Fitzsimons offers us a chronological journey through the structural and thematic development of Kinsella's poetic writing.Fitzsimons demonstrates that Kinsella has had a career that has risen to a high public profile where he followed conventional stanzaic forms, to a position where he began to reject inherited forms and thus began a gradual critical disengagement from his work.We see in the early chapters that isolation, quintessentially part of the modern condition, is a theme that is regularly touched upon by the poet and further developed in relation to the Irish condition. Disappointment also pervades Kinsella's poetry. Although Fitzsimons emphasises the importance of the context of Kinsella's dismal upbringing in 1940s/50s Ireland, he avoids reducing his poetry down to a mere response to the poet's social and historical background, and thus he manages to maintain a sense of the irreducible integrity of his poetry.This well-researched and comprehensive book draws on illuminating manuscript sources and previously unpublished material as well as on Kinsella's own assistance. Considering Kinsella's work from its beginnings until his most recent publications Fitzsimons shows that his poetry is driven, despite the apparent rift between its early and late styles, by a consistent impulse and deliberate aesthetic of growth. "The Sea of Disappointment" will offer a fresh insight into the poetic work of one of the most innovative poets of contemporary Ireland.