SEAMUS HEANEY: A POET OF THE THRESHOLD

SEAMUS HEANEY WINS THE LITERATURE AWARD FOR A BODY OF POEMS ROOTED IN HIS CATHOLIC CHILDHOOD IN NORTHERN IRELAND

PEOPLE SUPPOSEDLY IN THE KNOW have been saying for years that Irish poet Seamus Heaney would one day win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Of course, people said the same thing about Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges and Graham Greene, illustrious authors and notorious nonwinners. Against that background, the Swedish Academy's selection of Heaney, announced last week, qualifies as something of a surprise: the laurel went to someone widely seen as deserving it.

The Academy likes to invest some geopolitical significance in its literature awards, and the current peace talks in Northern Ireland seem to have influenced this year's decision. Among...

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