Louis MacNeice is increasingly recognised as one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century, and his work has been a defining influence upon a generation of Irish poets that includes Derek Mahon, Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon. "The Selected Letters" is indispensable as a resource for an understanding of the intellectual culture of the mid-twentieth century. A Classics don, poet, playwright and globetrotting BBC producer, the medley and blend of MacNeice's cultural influences seems exemplary in its modernity. He kept up a significant correspondence with E. R. Dodds, Anthony Blunt and T. S. Eliot, to name but three prominent figures of the time. During his time at the BBC MacNeice witnessed many key events, including the partition of India in 1947 and the independence of the Gold Coast from Britain in 1957, and these are recorded in two long sequences to his wife, the singer Hedli Anderson. His complex relationship to Ireland and to his Irish heritages speak resonantly to contemporary debates about Irish and Northern Irish cultural identity.
Finally, the Letters will do much to broaden our understanding of a vivid and often enigmatic personality whose varied life and individual charisma have often resisted explanation.