The Prose (1971-2020) follows The Adaptations (1975-2020) and The Poems (1961-2020) and continues The Gallery Press’s ‘Mahon project’ of putting into print and on the record all of the work that Derek Mahon wished to preserve. Here magazine articles and literary journalism are joined by longer critical considerations of Swift, Coleridge, Yeats, the ‘Pound Era’ and Dylan Thomas among other subjects. Reflections on clouds, huts and sheds, flying boats, contemporary artists and rubbish theory sit beside autobiographical excursions — essays in the old sense — that display acute commentary on our modern world.
The Prose (1971-2020) concludes with two previously unpublished pieces (one unfinished), this compendium shows a stylist at work and presents a prose companion to, and shadow text for, one of the great bodies of poetry in recent times.
‘It’s always helpful to read Montague’s prose together with the poetry,’ the author writes in one of these scintillating essays. ‘We get the back story.’
In Dublin Review of Books Gerald Dawe described Derek Mahon’s Selected Prose (2012) as ‘Mahon unplugged, meditating on all things that have mattered to him over the stretch of his writing life to date. The volume, under the discrete narrative of individual essays and reviews, merges into a composite picture of the poet himself and the world he imagines, as much as the one in which he lives, or has lived in: “we salvage what we can”, as he remarks in the author’s note and throughout Selected Prose there is a clear sense of tracking what he sees as cultural decline, things “on the way out”.’