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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 
Judging Fintan Judging Shaw

Judging Fintan Judging Shaw

Anthony Roche

Most Shavians steer clear of discussing Shaw’s final decades. It is then that he starts cuddling up to dictators, of whom there was no shortage at the time. Beatrice Webb blamed his admiration for Mussolini on 'his intellectual isolation and weakness for flattery'.

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The Long Fellow

The Long Fellow

Mary E Daly

During his later career, Eamon de Valera only invoked Ulster when it was politically expedient. His latest biographer notes that in 1921-22 he regarded the Irish Free State as a permanent arrangement and the Ulster settlement as temporary – though the reverse turned out to be the case.

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No Hope of an End

No Hope of an End

Kevin Stevens

Nicole Krauss has made her mark with fiction that is technically daring, emotionally vibrant, and unafraid of the largest subjects. She is fresh and individual but knows from where she comes. Her most recent novel has Philip Roth’s influence all over it, while Kafka’s shade hovers in the background.

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The People’s Alfie

Tom Wall

Alfie Byrne was a public representative for more than 50 years, a member of both the House of Commons and Dáil Éireann, and lord mayor of Dublin ten times. He was hugely popular, yet perhaps as much in spite of as because of his Catholic, conservative and Anglophile politics.

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The Philosopher as Private Collector

Catalin Partenie

The Romanian philosopher Alexandru Dragomir was a pupil of Heidegger in Germany until 1943, when he was conscripted into the Romanian army. In the communist period, he had to hide this background. He never published, but after his death, almost a hundred notebooks were found among his belongings.

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Backs to the Wall

Andy Pollak

The widely held view of the Northern Protestant working class is that it is reactionary, prone to violence and possesses little that could be called culture other than marching bands. This is certainly the view that has been promoted by republicans. The reality is a little more nuanced.

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Drama in the Catacombs

Máirín Nic Eoin

A study of Irish-language theatre in the mid-twentieth century shows that in spite of considerable difficulties associated with the sociological realities of language capacities in the country there was, in particular in the 1960s, a quite thriving Gaelic stage culture.

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Defending Freedom

John Swift

Contemporary critics of the human rights tradition argue either that it is a racket for the benefit of lawyers or that it is based on impractical idealism. But we should not forget what a dictatorship looks like; to fight for civilised decency is still important, and success is not impossible.

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The People’s Story

Fergus O’Ferrall

A comprehensive new volume of essays on Ireland’s social history since 1740 claims to offer a new interpretation of the country’s history. Certainly it contains much excellent and groundbreaking material, but it furnishes a starting point for interpretation rather than the finished article.

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The New Law of War

Gerry Kearns

The US military presents the Middle East as permanently unstable, ignoring its own continual interventions in the region and portraying it rather as an external place from which the United States is repeatedly threatened and to which it is periodically required to return.

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Behind the Facade

Cathal Moore

A posthumously published work by an eminent architect and architectural historian gives a valuable insight into the practices of building, the divisions of trades and the sourcing of materials in Ireland during the Georgian period.

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Listening to the Women

Adrian Paterson

Voices are central to the project of revolution, just as they are afterwards, and not only as a metaphor. If the 1916 rising was staged – and a surprisingly large number of participants in the event had a background in the theatre – no one could say that it went quite according to script.

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Literarily Hitler

Paul O’Mahoney

The politicisation of everyday life is most typical of totalitarian regimes but every society in every age is susceptible. To politicise life is not to elevate it but to reduce it to one dimension and vulgarise it, sharpening partisanship and inducing people to lower their intellectual standards.

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The Cruel Ways of War

Niamh Reilly

A sparkling collection of essays was published 100 years ago written by a man who had been regarded as a formidable intellectual and rising star of progressive Ireland. But Tom Kettle had died the previous year fighting in France and his book was already out of joint with the new times.

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Reclaiming the Lyric

Justin Quinn

Modernism, for many decades from the mid-twentieth century, dominated how we understood the visual arts, music, architecture, and design. If you wrote poems in rhyme about landscape and the seasons at the beginning of the twentieth century, you were out.

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Northern Star

Jim Smyth

Samuel Neilson was a principal in the founding of the first, open society of the United Irishmen and an architect of the underground movement and the alliance with the Defenders. When the strategic initiative shifted from Belfast to Dublin, Neilson shifted with it.

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Saving the Mind from Big Tech

Stephen Phillips

There was a time when it seemed that people didn’t mind what they shoved in their mouths as long as it was cheap. Then came ‘artisan food’, for which a minority would pay a premium. Might a willingness to pay for ‘artisan’ thought and analysis yet save what we used to call the quality press?

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Toxins

Mary O’Donnell

Although Annemarie Ní Churreáin’s poems often centre on ‘subjects’ and ‘issues’, the strength of her work derives from a perceived absence of agenda. There may well be an agenda, but thanks to poetic language true to its task, we believe in these poems as poetry.

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Making a History of the Homeplace

Breandán Mac Suibhne

An extract from ‘The End of Outrage’, an intimate history of a small southwest Donegal community around the time of the Famine which focuses not on the relations between the rich and the poor but between poor families themselves, land, inheritance and emigration.

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Poetry, Exile, Homecoming

Keith Payne

After much wandering, there is a sense of homecoming in Michael O’Loughlin’s later poems, but more the poet coming home to himself than any facile notion of nationhood. This is a collection which places O’Loughlin deservedly within the canon of Irish poetry.

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A Great Delight, A Little Load

Carlo Gébler

Peter Fallon’s version of the Greek poet Hesiod’s best-known work avoids the traps of exaggerated fidelity to ancient poetic protocol and wilful anachronism. There is also modesty in his practice: this is about Hesiod, and admiration of what Fallon can do is not allowed to get in the way.

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Not All There

Dan A O’Brien

Sean O’Reilly’s truncated, misshapen stories are a radical leave-taking from the Irish literary tradition ‑ more Flannery than Frank O’Connor ‑ while in other ways they could not be anything other than Irish, sharing much with the stranger work of Donal Ryan and Rob Doyle.

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Wordplay

Declan O’Driscoll

It’s not easy being in a Joanna Walsh story. Nothing is quite as it should be and however fervently you maintain hope, that vision you have of how life might approach perfection ‑ the image imagined ‑ never settles or sharpens into focus.

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Love Persists, Despite

Nessa O’Mahony

Two new collections deal with the many challenges that life throws at us, from illness and ageing to bereavement, fragility and, eventually, death. And in spite of all this, the poet is compelled, as Kavanagh wrote, to ‘record love’s mystery without claptrap’.

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Thinking ’bout the Things

Afric McGlinchey

The strongest impression in Eva HD’s new collection of poems is of her casual register (she often uses words like ‘dunno’ and ‘uh’) and her focus on what Heidegger refers to as the thingness of things.

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People of No Account

David Langwallner

Arundhati Roy’s new novel, her first for twenty years, has many passages of fine writing but overall is something of an aesthetic mess. The key to understanding it and the passionate political impulses that lie behind it are perhaps to be found in Roy’s political writing about her native India.

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Traffic in Mockery

Adrian Paterson

The selling off of Ireland’s cultural heritage makes for decent business. Recently the treasures of what the auctioneer described as ‘Ireland’s greatest literary and artistic family’ netted just shy of £2 million. Where, if indeed anywhere, does the public interest come into this?

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Response to a Review

Robert W White

Robert W White takes issue with a review of his book Out of the Ashes, which appeared in the October 2017 issue.

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Places Like Home

Catherine Phil McCarthy

Poet Gerard Smyth and painter Seán McSweeney have produced a remarkable collaboration of words and images built around the farms, fields and landscapes of Co Meath, where each of them spent some time in childhood

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Alone in Luanda

Patrick Gillan

An exceptional novel from an Angolan writer details the brutality, cynicism and tragedy of war. Comedy, love and a touch of magic realism also contribute to a riveting narrative. It is a worthy winner of this year’s International Dublin Literary Award

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Part of What They Are

Maurice Earls

Driven by its history, Britain is hurtling towards a hard Brexit, which is likely to be a quite unpleasant experience for our neighbours, and perhaps to some degree also for us. Unless, that is, a coalition of pragmatists emerges in Westminster. In that eventuality perhaps Ireland should offer a helping hand.

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Mother of Invention

Mary Morrissy

Éilís Ní Dhuibne is a deceptive writer, deceptively light in tone, deceptively erudite in her references, deceptively irreverent in her treatment of form. Her literariness betrays itself when she pulls the narrative rug from under the reader and in her likeness for embroideries and yarns.

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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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The human right to claptrap

If we want children to be told only things that are true, we have a lot of work ahead of us, particularly at this time of year. But can we find sufficient sustenance, as children or as adults, in a diet that confines our imaginations to what is demonstrably verifiable?

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A Servant of the State

Frank Callanan spoke recently in commemoration of the state’s first minister for justice, Kevin O’Higgins, who was murdered in 1927 by rogue members of the IRA and the dominant theme of whose career was the primacy of civil government.

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The Toad Work

The discovery of agriculture was the original curse that turned humanity away from its idyllic hunter-gatherer existence. No one is quite sure how it got started. Was it a series of unfortunate accidents or perhaps the work of some obsessive Mark Zuckerberg type?

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A Half-National Treasure

Jonathan Swift is regarded with some pride as being one of the most notable of Ireland’s long line of great writers. The man himself however would have preferred to have been considered an Englishman – though he did the Irish people some service.

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Art For All

In a long career as art historian and arts administrator, Kenneth Clark exhibited a constant commitment to the idea that ‘high culture’ should be available to the widest possible audience. His traditionalist approach did not please everyone, but that did not faze him in the slightest.

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Stroke City

Ireland’s fifth-largest city has many attractions – a broad river, a beautiful natural situation enclosed by hills, a resilient and humorous population, and two names, one for each section of the community.

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Sparks from the Comet

Dubliners on Culture Night this year heard a talk about one of the most eminent Dublin newspapers of the early nineteenth century, delivered in the very heart of what was then the city's newspaper and publishing district.

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Will There Be Blood?

Most of us assume that blood will always be available for us should we need it in transfusion. But in Ireland the only source is from volunteers, who donate out of altruism, receiving nothing in return except perhaps a 'warm glow'.

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The Proust of Ormiston Crescent

In 1912, EM Forster travelled to Belfast to meet Forrest Reid, whose novel ‘The Bracknels’ he had greatly admired. The two men were to become lifelong friends. On Reid’s death in 1947, Forster wrote that he was the most important man in Belfast, ‘though Belfast knew him not’.

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John Ashbery: The Syntax of Time

What marked John Ashbery out from most of his contemporaries was his extraordinary immersion in syntax as the prime organising force of his verse. Many readers noted the parallels between his mature writings and the late novels of Henry James.

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Socrates and 'O Jogo Bonito'

The Brazilian footballer - and medical doctor - Sócrates was a hero not just on the pitch but off, and his courageous engagements with politics in a dark era offer a good introduction to the country's recent history.

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Ivan Illich: An Exchange

David Cayley takes issue with a review of a book on the philosopher Ivan Illich. Seamus O’Mahony, the author of the review, responds to the criticism.

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The First Irexit

In 1922 Southern Irish unionists saw themselves as a cultured, cosmopolitan people, repositories of uprightness and fair dealing, bearers of values which could well be smothered by superstition, greed and chicanery should Ireland leave the United Kingdom.

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A European at Eighty

The historian Peter Burke has devoted his life to scholarly synthesis, specialising in short, densely argued and concise books which range across borders, both geographical and academic.

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It's wonderful to be here

Philip Larkin dated the sexual revolution to 1963 and the Beatles' first LP. Perhaps, but the album that came along fifty years ago this month was revolutionary in more than one sense.

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From ‘How’ to ‘What’ in Politics

Political debate in Ireland is conducted at a juvenile level of jeer and insult which bores the public even more than it does the TDs themselves. Greater civility is required, but an exploration of what shared norms as a society we wish to live by would also be beneficial.

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Eddy and Me

The success of a recent novel set in the depressed northern French region of Picardy reminds an Irish writer of her own novel set in the same village and focusing on the experience of a young Irish girl at the end of the 1950s. Not so much has changed in the culture in the intervening decades.

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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 ...