Variations on Silence in Dermot Healy’s A Fool’s Errand

in Silence in Modern Irish Literature
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In his poetry volume, A Fool’s Errand (2010), the writer Dermot Healy delves deeply into the paradox of combining art and silence. This chapter explores this paradox in Healy’s work in the light of Susan Sontag’s seminal essay on the aesthetics of silence from 1967 and the thought of Clément Rosset. In the process, attention is drawn to the County Sligo coastal area upon which Healy’s reflections on language, silence, experience, and loss in A Fool’s Errand draw heavily. Far from presenting a barren form of silence, A Fool’s Errand—in its gaps and abysses—presents the rich and multifaceted nature of silence as an artistic phenomenon: one that carries within it the weight of Irish locality, universality, and personal memory.