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

Connoisseur of Foolishness

Kevin Stevens

Today’s bulbous literary novels are remarkably tolerant of longueurs, asides and arbitrary disquisitions, says Thomas McGuane. That can be their virtue. Not so short stories. Short stories share some of the traits of poetry, which could scarcely tolerate the liberties of novels.

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Love Me Why Don’t You?

Love Me Why Don’t You?

Jon Smith

Donald Trump may appear to thrive on antagonism – and indeed he has no trouble finding it – but he is also a man who is desperate for approbation. A populist with a totalitarian mindset, he is that strangest of creatures – a political confidence man with no confidence.

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Making Russia Great Again

Making Russia Great Again

Pádraig Murphy

Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he plans to operate through an authoritarian state at home, while abroad he wishes Russia to be felt as a great power again, even if that means ‘breaking the American monopoly on the breaking of international law’.

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The Quixote of Cant

Martin Tyrrell

George Orwell set himself the mission of uncovering and ‘calling out’ all forms of political lying and evasion, particularly those of the people he called ‘the boiled rabbits of the Left’. He often chose his targets well, though he was far from being without foibles or prejudices himself.

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Sons and Mothers

Ann Kennedy Smith

Samuel Beckett largely attempted to escape the maternal embrace, insisting that his future would be decided by him rather than her. Philip Larkin’s relationship with his mother seems to have been much warmer, based at least partially on a shared pessimistic attitude to life.

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For Nothing

Sean Byrne

Groups which benefited hugely from NAMA were the lawyers, estate agents and surveyors whose businesses had been hit by the bursting of the bubble. As the government cut allowances for carers and deprived the chronically sick of medical cards, €2.6 billion was set aside for professional fees. 

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Revolution for Export

John Swift

A major new study explores the relationship between the American and French revolutions and goes on to consider how events in the Thirteen States impacted on Canada, Ireland, Haiti, Spain and Latin America, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Greece in the period up to 1848.

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Step Back, Make Space

Fergus O’Ferrall

A ‘peace’ consisting of two separate communities deterring each other from dominance in a fragile see-saw balance of power, where there is no real sharing in a common civic culture, is no real peace. What is required instead is Christian reconciliation based on a rejection of sectarianism.

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Revolutionary Year

Matthew Kovac

A new anthology of essays on the year 1916 seeks to internationalise the study of the Easter Rising, often treated as a purely domestic matter, and to restore that year, long neglected in favour of Bolshevik 1917, to its proper place as the revolutionary hinge of twentieth century politics.

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Exit from Metroland

Giles Newington

The plain-speaking, undeceived tone of Julian Barnes’s narrators, together with his suburban settings, can make him seem a quintessentially English writer. Normally, however, the gradually revealed unreliability of these narrators serves to subvert the assumptions of the middle class world.

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The Other Side of the Sky

Luke Gibbons

For some it is only a matter of time before the digital world catches up with its human creators, but for Wittgenstein it was a matter of principle that computer codes could never acquire the nuances and complexity of ordinary language, let alone the resonances of literature.

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An Easy Conscience

Aidan O’Malley

Religion, Hubert Butler believed, should be a place of truth-telling rather than a mere symbol of decorousness and respectability. Croatia’s Cardinal Stepinac felt he had nothing to be ashamed of in his record on the forcible conversion of orthodox Serbs during World War Two. Butler disagreed.

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Rediscovered Territory

Tim Groenland

In a reimagined continuation of the Huckleberry Finn story, Huck is a reluctant witness to the march of ‘sivilization’ as it rampages across America. His relentlessly unheroic perspective and humanitarian pragmatism offer a partial antidote to the warlike machinations of his compatriots.

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Instead of Blood

Ian Doherty

In Northern Ireland in 1972, 470 people were killed, 1,853 bombs were planted and 18,819 kilos of explosives found. Some thought a United Ireland was close, others a civil war. At the same time the Dublin and London governments were working diligently with moderate politicians for a settlement.

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Expunged

Seamus Deane

Two figures dominate in Breandán Mac Suibhne’s history of a Donegal community, one an informer, the other one of the hard-faced men who did well out of the Famine. Together they help ruin the community, transforming it into a world stripped of people and of communal ethics.

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Fortune’s Fools

Tom Hennigan

Romans thought the bounty the goddess Fortuna had provided would last forever, that their empire was the natural culmination of human civilisation. But their world, built on shifting climatic and epidemiological foundations, was to become a victim of its own success.

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Fíon Spáinneach

Vincent Morley

The animosity between the smuggler Murtaí Óg Ó Súilleabháin and John Puxley, both of whom died violently in the 1750s, was once seen as symptomatic of wider societal divisions. But in fact Puxley, though employed as a revenue officer, had had a notable career in smuggling too.

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The Hive Mind

John Fanning

Charged with reviving the ‘New Republic’, Franklin Foer hired good writers. Quality improved but sales didn’t. ‘Data specialists’ were hired, who insisted that the editor should focus on ‘snackable content’. He complied, but then resigned and wrote a very interesting book as revenge.

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Playing with the Bits

Carlo Gébler

Misery, Paul Muldoon would have us know, wasn’t just back then. We’re still mired in it. His pessimism is bracing but never depressing: this has quite a lot to do with his wit and his lightness, both of which are considerable.

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Cut and Catch

Gerard Smyth

While Tom French moves much further afield in several of the poems in his new collection, enlarging his range and what might be called his world view, it is to localism and ‘the small things of the day’ that he mostly stays true and which are the fruitful source of so much of his work.


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From Europe’s Borderlands

Victoria Melkovska

An exciting new bilingual anthology of Ukrainian poetry might remind us of  a row of Soviet-era apartment blocks, with multiple kitchen windows open at the same time and different voices coming from inside. Put together, it is a melting pot of voices and cultures.

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On the Mend

Sam McManus

The actor Stephen McGann has told, through the prism of health and illness, the story of his family over several generations, from their origins in Famine-scarred Roscommon, to the Liverpool slums and on to the postwar social progress which brought social medicine and social mobility.

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Homosexuals, Drunks and Weirdos

Brian Boyd

The British recruited their intelligence officers from the top echelons of society. When many of them turned out to be working for the other side the popular press turned on this ‘elite’ and, arguably, all ‘elites’, with deleterious effects on public thinking that may extend up to Brexit.

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Richard Murphy 1927-2018

Benjamin Keatinge

With the death of Richard Murphy on January 30th, 2018, Ireland lost one of its greatest poets, the creator, in the words of fellow practitioner Peter Sirr, of ‘unforgettable music’.

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Becoming the Stranger

Julia O’Mahony

As an editor, Toni Morrison resisted the dictum that one cannot “sell books on both sides of the street”. As a novelist, she attempts to write non-colourist literature about black people, to resist the dehumanising effect of the fetishisation of race.

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An Eye for the Gewgaws

Harry Clifton

Dennis O’Driscoll was his generation’s leading man of letters. He assimilated the mode and manner of translated Eastern European poetry and applied it to the domestic and professional realities of Ireland. In his finest poems, the decadence and morbidity of the age is lifted beyond itself.

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Facts, After-facts and Fakes

Mary O’Donnell

Tara Bergin’s second collection displays an intellectually adroit interplay between disciplines not often evident in Anglophone poetry. Bergin excels at seeing patterns and connections; her poems challenge us to reconsider everything, trust nothing, and treat the past as a series of riddles.

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Life As It Flees

Gerard Dawe

A sense of pleasure and ‘revels’ plays through much of Thom Gunn’s poetry, from the famous image of the motorcyclist in ‘On the Move’ to Elvis Presley’s sexuality. While sex, drugs and rock and roll all feature in Selected Poems, there really isn’t a sense of excess.

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Against Pure Wool

Maurice Earls

In the midst of the January Uprising of 1863 in Poland, a Dublin grocer, Patrick McCabe Fay, donated money to a fund in support of the Polish rebels, explaining that it was only right that the “Poland of the West” come to the aid of “her sister of the East”.

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Nicola Gordon Bowe (1948-2018)

Catherine Marshall,

Nicola Gordon Bowe, who died suddenly last month, was an expert on the work of stained glass artists Harry Clarke and Wilhelmina Geddes. She was the pioneer writer who fought to have craft and design recognised intellectually as operating on an equal footing with the fine arts.

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Let Them Have It

Patrick Claffey

You’ve either got or you haven’t got style. AA Gill had it in spades, but he also had substance, convictions, passion and a devil-may-care attitude to the proprieties that often got him into trouble with the many people he offended.

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Kith and Kine

Gerard Murphy

A compendious work on the ostensibly obscure and specialist subject of the origins of cattle breeds manages to incorporate a good deal of fascinating human history over several millennia, recalling in the process the literary work of Herman Melville or WG Sebald.

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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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What country, friends, is this?

All the world’s a stage, the words you are hearing may well mean more than they seem to do, and what looks like the battlefield of Agincourt in northern France in 1415 could just as well be Ireland in 1599 ‑ or even 1943.

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Why Marx? Why now?

Marx and Engels were represented on the banners of Soviet-era May Day parades as two imposing greybeards. But Marx, born almost 200 years ago, had a restless and revolutionary mind, schooled by ‘relentless erudition’. A conference in Maynooth next month celebrates his legacy.

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Pierre Milza, historian: 1932-2018

Pierre Milza was a specialist in the history of fascism, which he saw as a distinct form of political extremism and mass mobilisation, largely confined to a particular time and a particular set of circumstances.

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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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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 ...