Norman MacCaig 

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Alasdair Macrae

This study places Norman MacCaig in his literary and social contexts and aims to convey the vigorous intelligence, pithy humour and surprise in his poetry.



Norman MacCaig, who died in 1996, was a prolific poet whose later poetry is accessible and popular. This study locates him in his literary and social contexts and presents his work according to its major emphases. Although he did not manifest dramatic changes of attitude or form, there are substantial developments in his writing and these are explored. The chapters are inter-connected not sequential and the book aims to give a vivid impression of the whole poet. A sufficient number of poems are quoted in their entirety to provide readers, unacquainted with the poet, with an introduction to the poetry, while the discussion of issues and the analysis of individual poems should enhance the understanding and enjoyment of readers already familiar with MacCaig. The ambition of this book is not to suffocate the poems with commentary but to allow the intelligence, humour and humaneness of the poems to speak to the readers and shock, delight and challenge them.


Norman MacCaig is increasingly studied by literature students. In 2013 his work is included in the Scottish Leavers Certificate syllabus, and Alasdair Macrae's thoughtful and accessible study provides a stimulating introduction.


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