The number of critical books that can confidently take their place next to their subjects is small; this is certainly one of them. It is all the more remarkable given that the subject, Derek Mahon, is recognised universally as one of the great poets of his era, whose work, though admired and praised by all readers of poetry, has not received a due measure of sustained criticism. Haughton’s study is the first full-length analysis of Mahon, so it is a relief, as well as a pleasure, to find it so excellently done.
Mahon was highly praised from his first emergence in the 1960s along with the other gifted Ulster poets of his generation: initially Heaney, Longley and Simmons, following behind Montague and Hewitt. One contributory reason for Mahon’s relative critical neglect is given a lot of prominence by Haughton: he is an