Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 
Thinking Machines

Thinking Machines

Matthew Parkinson-Bennett

Transhumanists want us to merge with machines and upload our minds, promising immortality and total freedom. Like millenarians through the ages, they believe we will soon bear witness to the raising of the dead and the life of the world to come.

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Liberal Among the Revolutionaries

Liberal Among the Revolutionaries

Hugh Gough

Germaine de Staël was no democrat, but the issues that she raised - the relationship between public opinion and power, the destabilising impact of street politics, the ruthlessness of power struggles and the corrosive effect of personal ambition – remain pressing today.

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Majoritarian Futures

Majoritarian Futures

Ivan Krastev

Europe’s migration crisis involves not just the movement of people from outside Europe to the old continent, or from poorer states to richer ones, but also the movement of voters away from the centre, and of the displacement of the left-right division by one between internationalists and nativists.

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It’s Only Me

Enda O’Doherty

Michel de Montaigne lived through the French wars of religion and was involved in many attempts on behalf of his king to broker a peace. On the whole, however, he preferred to be occupied with his books, which he insisted he read not to improve but to amuse himself.

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Ireland’s Adventure in Spain

John Minahane

During the first few years of the seventeenth century there was a remarkable Irish migration to Spain. The migrants came principally from southwest Cork and south Kerry. Both sexes were well-represented, and all ages, rich and poor, higher classes and low – possibly 10,000 people.

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The Fish and the Water

Thomas Fitzgerald

A study of the IRA’s relations with the people during the War of Independence reveals that while there was sometimes intimidation, its level can easily be exaggerated. Nor should one forget that the greater intimidation of the population came from the Crown forces.

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Making History in Ireland

Liam Kennedy

Studying and writing history within the academy is an iterative process that admits of progress, regression and deviation but at its best it is a truth-seeking quest, and one without end. The fruits of inquiry are always subject to revision, at least outside of totalitarian and theocratic societies.

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Subaltern Songs

Fintan Vallely

A new collection of Cork songs assembled by Jimmy Crowley achieves a model standard in the genre – setting the work in its place, establishing the relevant voices and according the lyrics their historical period and purpose, adding value for singer, listener - and even reader - alike.

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The Forgotten Frontier

Darach MacDonald

A border can be a bridge on which to meet, wrote Claudio Magris, or it can be a barrier of rejection. Both Dublin and Belfast have tended to try to forget the people who live around Ireland’s border, but this looking the other way may not be sustainable for much longer.

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Race & Cash & Rock & Roll

George O’Brien

The record label owner can be seen as the freebooter who turned up treasure in the buried American lives crying out in the hollers of the fields or the hymns of the hollows. Did well out of it too, knowing the ways of copyright and related business niceties. Well, it’s a free country, or so they say.

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An Angry Wind

John Wilson Foster

A new biographical study liberates us from the Yeatsian image of Maud Gonne most of us have lived with, springs her from long existence as a footnote to a great poet’s life and gives us the information by which we can finally take the measure of this deplorably influential woman.

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Telling Tales

Julia O’Mahony

Beryl Bainbridge tended to treat the truth around her own beginnings as no less malleable than her art, and though she may have sometimes served as an unreliable narrator within her prose for literary effect, she was equally untrustworthy in telling the tale of her own life.

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The Great Escape

Harry Clifton

Whatever its lack of charm for those who grew up here, traditional Ireland has always attracted enthusiastic European and other visitors. It’s the place where time stands still, where modernity is still stubbornly resisted and where the best people to this day ride out to hounds.

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Mapping the Revival

Barra Ó Seaghdha

A handsome new publication provides a survey of that period of ferment and rejuvenation that, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, ‘fashioned a new civic culture outside the scope of institutional religion, the colonial state and conventional politics’.

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The God in the I

Manus Charleton

The Estonian aristocrat Hermann Keyserling was recognised as a leading intellectual in Europe and America in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1911, aged thirty-one, he travelled around the world to develop his spirituality. The Travel Diary of a Philosopher was the result.

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The Swiss Laid Bare

Fergal Lenehan

An impressive study by an Irish-born journalist who is a long-time resident in the confederation moves beyond lazy cliche and prejudice, driven by a desire to get the facts about the country straight, and for those facts to be fair and accurate.

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Magical Migrations

Giles Newington

Short but packed with ideas, Mohsin Hamid’s fourth novel shares with his previous work a compelling engagement with the present political moment. In its unambiguous faith in pluralism and tolerance, it is also a surprisingly optimistic message from a possible future.

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Genesis to Apocalypse

Alan Crilly

In a new short collection, the young Bolivian writer Liliana Colanzi touches on themes of domestic oppression and the cultural extinction of indigenous peoples in stories that offer an extraordinary density of ideas, transmitted in shape-shifting and affecting prose.

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The Call of the Fields

Gerard Smyth

Francis Ledwidge was a poet who went to war, but he did not become a war poet in the normal sense. Mostly he adhered to his natural terrain - rapture before nature - and the fixities of home in what he wrote in surroundings of horrendous conflict, remaining content to imaginatively ‘walk the old frequented ways’ of his memories of his native Co Meath.

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Shards

Afric McGlinchey

In a new novel by Conor O’Callaghan, which is reminiscent of Clare Louise Bennett’s experimental ‘Pond’, it’s as if the narrator – and the reader over his shoulder – is looking through a spyhole, gleaning fragments as told by the girl, and having to jigsaw the story together.

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Crossing the Boundaries

Máirín Nic Eoin

A feature of recent Irish-language periodical history has been the appearance of quality literary journals in which academic research is presented side by side with examples of creative writing and works of cultural and political analysis and commentary.

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Love and Other Questions

Deirdre Serjeantson

Francesco Petrarcha bequeathed to the Renaissance a particular way of writing about love. Shakespeare’s Romeo is just one of his disciples. But love was not the only string to Petrarch’s bow; he was also an archaeologist, classical scholar and respected moral philosopher. (This essay from the drb archive was originally published in April 2016.)

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I made a posy.

Florence Impens

The young George grew up surrounded by intellectuals and artists who would have a profound influence on his work, not least John Donne, a regular visitor to his mother’s salon, and a lifelong friend of hers. At Westminster School, he would also briefly meet Lancelot Andrewes, the famous linguist and one of the translators of the King James Bible. (This review essay from the drb archive was originally published in April 2014)

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Raiders and Settlers

Clíona Ní Ríordáin

In a splendid English-language volume of tribute, multiple translators from the Irish verse ensure that no one voice substitutes itself for the voice of the poet and that no single translator drowns out the original. The work can still be heard in its own time.

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A Strange Tale

Afric McGlinchey

An experimental novel that takes place entirely inside the mind of an unnamed protagonist relates the thought processes and intensely focused observations of an elusive, dissociated woman. Gradually, the reader realises that this is not just a domestic narrative but pure prose poetry.

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Businesses of the World Unite!

John Fanning

In the midst of growing despair over ‘precariousness’ and shifts in political support to the extremes, one oasis of progressive thinking has emerged. That it has been widely ignored is not surprising, since it comes from the consumer goods sector of the business world.

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Head-on and Dead-on

Magdalena Kay

Seamus Heaney’s academic intelligence was formidable but he did not try to write, or think, like a typical academic. His connections to other thinkers often seem idiosyncratic and personal, not made to build a rational intellectual structure.

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A Centenary Poem

Harry Clifton

In 1917, the French diplomat and poet Alexis Leger, who published under the name Saint-John Perse, wrote the long poem ‘Anabasis’, a meditation on the rise and fall of civilisations, after a visit to an old temple in the Xinchan mountains.

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Mishearing Voices

Fritz Senn

Artists are free to take liberties and twist facts in presenting a fictional account of the lives of actual people, but the dialogue in a novel based on James, Nora, Lucia and Giorgio Joyce does not sound very much like any conversations we might have expected them to have.

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Look, It’s Simple

Brian Trench

At an early stage of a new popularising book on quantum physics a crucial paradox is introduced: that ‘the more we discover, the more we understand that what we don’t know is greater than what we know’.

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The Note for Grief

Liza Costello

Each year Dermot Healy built a stone wall on the beach near his home, only for it to be washed away by the sea. Loss, his poems seem to say, is an intrinsic aspect of our world, and inseparable from its material reality.

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Is cuimhin liom

Patrick Gillan

The highlight of the state’s celebration of 1916 came on Easter Sunday, when it was established beyond doubt that the title Óglaigh na hÉireann belongs to the body that led the march past the GPO and not to bogus armies parading in balaclavas, a timely affirmation of the legitimacy of the state.

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Getting to Grey

Liam Hennessy

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.

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Astonished at Everything

Peter Sirr

Generosity and largeness of vision seem to meet happily in the poems of Uruguayan-French writer Jules Supervielle, which seem to cover great distances in short spaces.

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All or Nothing

Joschka Fischer

Those Germans who argue so vehemently against a so-called transfer union should realise that the EU has always been such a union. France got the CAP for its large rural economy and Germany the common market for its strong industry. Little has changed since.

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Birds, beasts and flowers

Gerald Dawe

DH Lawrence’s poetry offers a record of the powerful current of physical pleasure, the elusive joy of witnessing that which is different, and the kind of opinionated prickliness when things are not what they seem to be or should be.

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The Stilled World

Nicola Gordon Bowe

Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.

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First Impressions

It is not unusual today to pick up a book that is written by an Italian, published in London and printed in China. But the business of printing from the outset was no respecter of national boundaries and indeed had many globalist aspects as early as the sixteenth century.

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Election Fever

Scottish electors have been called to the polls five times in the last three years and will soon be voting for a sixth time. Society has become intensely politicised, chiefly to the benefit of the SNP. Otherwise the strongly unionist Tories are recovering, while Labour’s miseries continue.

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All Change in France

The second round of the French presidential elections confirmed some of the voting trends of the first. Now we move on to parliamentary elections, which are likely to usher in major changes in the political landscape.

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The Several Faces of France

It is rather obvious perhaps that the results of a general election will put on display the divisions in a country. What is interesting about the results of the first round of the French presidential election is the salience of divisions not just of class but of geography, in particular those between urban and rural electorates.

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In and Out of Fashion

James Clarence Mangan’s reputation saw a significant revival in the early twentieth century, and another around the bicentenary of his birth in 2003. Today he is seen as prefiguring some of the great poets of the later nineteenth century and is frequently read as something of a proto-modernist voice.

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Fahrenheit 451

The ritual burning of books is generally considered to be a fairly radical act of censorship. So why is an organisation that campaigns for free speech publishing an argument defending the perpetrator of such an act?

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The Law's Delays

Charles Dickens was no great admirer of the practices of the legal system. Most notably in 'Bleak House', he exposed its inefficiencies and injustices. That was then of course, but in many respects the law today is still Dickensian.

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Bright Young Things

The world of the wealthy young people who made up English high society in the middle of the last century was frequently a gay enough place. But it wasn't a great place to be gay.

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Robert Silvers: 1929-2017

The longtime editor of 'The New York Review of Books', who died this week, still working at 87, was simply the best in the business, a business that it is somewhat surprising can still be carried out in the 21st century.

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Where Credit Is Due

TK Whitaker may have been generally far-seeing as regards the Irish economy, but one thing he did not foresee, and indeed looked with scepticism upon, was the soon to be very successful Irish credit union movement.

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The Long Road

There are two views on whether the Arab-Israeli and Northern Ireland conflicts can be compared, with lessons being learned from the Irish peace process. One says the two situations are incommensurable as each is unique. The other says one car crash is pretty much like another.

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The Enemy Within

In the late fifteenth century, huge numbers of Spanish and Portuguese Jews were expelled by the Inquisition, while others were judicially murdered. After Brexit, the Iberian countries are wondering if any of those 'Sephardic' Jews who settled in Britain might like to come back.

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Why craic gets up my nose

A generation or two ago, wherever people gathered in Ulster crack was seldom in short supply. It was often powerful; then it moved south, where it was mighty, even ninety, and became craic. Today you’ll find craic wherever songs are sung. It’s as Irish as Guinness, but curiously you won’t find it in Dinneen's dictionary.

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The Way We Die

Seamus O'Mahony, a gastroenterologist based in Cork, is one of the most prolific of contributors to this review. His well-received study of the medicalisation of death has just been published in paperback.

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Tzvetan Todorov: 1939-2017

The Franco-Bulgarian thinker and writer had a long career as literary theorist, historian of ideas, political thinker and art historian. He retained throughout his life a deep commitment to democracy and a free and tolerant society.

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A Modest Proposal

In petitioning for a second wife, George Orwell did not oversell the goods, noting that he was quite old and a bit of a crock. Still, surely someone somewhere must have wanted to become the widow of a significant literary man.

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You Have To Laugh

In Stalin's Russia an ill-judged joke could land you in the Gulag. Later on jokes could still be dangerous but were also in a sense a safety valve, a relatively harmless way for the downtrodden to let off steam.

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New Books

Irish Literature

Featuring a full chapter extract from The Abode of Fancy by Sam Coll and a poem from Paula Meehan's new collection, Geomantic.

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World Literature

Featuring 2016 Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty's The Sellout.

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Irish History & Politics

Featuring Hell at the Gates, in which Brian Cowen, the late Brian Lenihan, Eamon Ryan, Micheál Martin, Mary Harney and many others recount in their own words the inside story behind the government's infamous bailout.

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World History & Politics

Featuring Final Solution, David Cesarani's sweeping reappraisal challenging the accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany.

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Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Paul Howard's I Read the News Today, Oh Boy, the extraordinary story of the young Irishman who was immortalized for ever in the opening lines of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'.

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World Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Loose Canon: The Extraordinary Songs of Clive James and Pete Atkin, an exploration of the lyrics and tunes that have won Clive James and his musical partner, Pete Atkin, a fanatical cult following.

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Ireland 1912 - 1922

Featuring Wherever the Firing Line Extends, Ronan McGreevey's study of the places where the Irish made their mark in World War I and are remembered in the monuments, cemeteries and landscapes of France and Flanders.

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More New Books ...