Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 
They’re Selling Postcards of the Stoning

They’re Selling Postcards of the Stoning

Jeremy Kearney

When Bob Dylan blasted out his electric version of “Maggie’s Farm” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, he was, for many, committing sacrilege. Pete Seeger, who at the time epitomised American folk music tradition, was said to have called for an axe to cut the cables.

More
Hidden Persuaders

Hidden Persuaders

Farrel Corcoran

We can have democracy or we can have great concentrations of wealth, but not both, ‘people’s attorney’ Louis Brandeis warned. A new study shows the extent to which the super-rich were prepared to go to block Obama’s ambition to foster progressive change through government action.

More
Language in Orbit

Language in Orbit

Catherine Phil MacCarthy

The governing thread in a new selected Muldoon is a life lived from his upbringing in the village of Moy on the Tyrone-Armagh border to Princeton. The work engages concerns both private and public, while Muldoon’s poems address an increasingly wide audience. 

More

A Canine Resurrection

David Blake Knox

The ancient Irish Wolfhound was chosen as an emblem for the Abbey Theatre and a mascot for the Irish Volunteers. But in fact the dog we know as the Wolfhound is far from ancient and far from ‘pure’. And perhaps, as such, it is not an unsuitable symbol for the Irish ‘race’.

More

Time to Listen

Liam Hennessy

Mental function is immensely complicated and our understanding of it still in its relative infancy; in Ireland our first psychiatric institutions date back only to the early eighteenth century. Could it be that it is the human brain or mind, and not space, that is the final frontier?

More

Changing Direction

Frank Barry

Economic stagnation in the Ireland of the 1950s persuaded many that a different economic course must be tried out. The name of TK Whitaker is intimately associated with the new departure, but the changes that occurred did not exactly match the recipe he initially offered.

More

Real Americans

Daniel Geary

Liberals in the US have been told they must understand the grievances of Trump voters. Yet it is difficult to conclude that many of them are anything other than the political enemies of social solidarity, who believe that only ‘winners’ deserve the basic necessities of a good life.

More

Misery and Improvement

John Swift

The European Enlightenment made its mark in Ireland as well as elsewhere. In the middle decades of the eighteenth century there was optimism about improvement and progress, while at the same time poor harvests, famine and disease took off between 13 and 20 per cent of the population.

More

A Life with Opinions

Andrew Carpenter

Should a book which contains passages clearly the product of imaginative re-creation be marketed as a biography? Jonathan Swift’s contradictions encourage many different kinds of response, but a work written in a highly imaginative style should perhaps be described as commentary.

More

Cracks in the Mould

Thomas O’Neill

Ireland’s 2011 general election saw big changes, with the collapse of Fianna Fáil in particular. In 2016 we saw Fine Gael and Labour weaken, a partial recovery for Fianna Fáil and progress for Sinn Féin and the far left. It may be, however, that the prospects for continuing dramatic change are not strong.

More

The Evil That Men Do

Frank Armstrong

Dostoyevsky’s idea of collective responsibility for human error is as important now as it ever was, while his message of compassion for all life on Earth remains a challenge. He was also a visionary, who intuited the terrible cruelties that would soon reign ascendant in his country.

More

Poisoned Apple

Martin O’Malloney

Claims that the European Commission is picking on little Ireland in the Apple taxation case fail to take into account that we are talking about the richest company in the world. Ireland will also ignore at its peril the rising tide of popular indignation over wholesale tax avoidance by multinationals.

More

The Backward Look

Pádraig Murphy

The Russians, according to Svetlana Alexievich, are a people of misfortune and suffering whose best moments have come with war. Following the failed experiment to drive an entire nation ‘with an iron hand to happiness’, the people no longer have the culture of happiness or the taste for a joyful life.

More

The New Souperism

John Horgan

Irish parents are often forced to have their children participate in a form of religious observance in which they themselves do not believe in exchange for educational and social benefits. We once called this souperism. And the current shabby compromise designed to confuse the unwary could best be described as souperism lite.

More

A Postmodern Disease

Seamus O’Mahony

Up to 1 per cent of the population may have coeliac disease but many more have self-diagnosed themselves as gluten-sensitive. Is gluten sensitivity based on any scientific evidence or is it the product of a misalliance between academic medicine and commerce?

More

Storied Women

Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado

A companion volume to Sinéad Gleeson’s ‘The Long Gaze Back’ charts the unique tradition of short fiction by women from the North of Ireland. Gleeson traces its historical arc from the turn of the century to the present and includes fifteen new stories by contemporary authors.

More

A Necessary Restitution

Billy Mills

The English poets of the 1940s, sandwiched between Auden, Spender, MacNeice and the main poets of the 1930s and the later development of ‘the Movement’, tend to be overlooked today. The publication of  a collected poems of one important figure, Terence Tiller, is very welcome.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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’.

More

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.

More

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.

More

Against Liberalism

Gordon Warren

In the newly independent Ireland of the 1920s, the Jesuit social theorist Edward Cahill argued strongly for the adoption of specifically Catholic principles in government, as well as resistance to what he saw as the corrosive effects of an unwanted legacy of British liberalism.

More

When All Our Gold Was Gorse

Gerard Smyth

Thomas McCarthy, as poet and thinker, is a defender of the past against the more crass aspects of modernity. He speaks from a wise understanding of the Ireland that has evolved from de Valera’s country of long summers to one where we try to read the runes from Berlin or Brussels. 

More

Ronan Fanning: 1941-2017

Michael Lillis

Ronan Fanning was of course known as one of the most distinguished historians of his generation. But he also played an important part behind the scenes in preparing the ground diplomatically for the peace process in Ireland.

More

The Myths of Brexit

James Harpur

The political battle in Britain was fought at a mythic level, and the image of the golden age, with its appeal to the restoration of national identity, triumphed. But only just. The Remainers foolishly failed to paint their vision in mythic oils, preferring the pointillism of practical details.

More

Into Their Own

Caroline Hurley

A substantial bilingual English-Irish anthology that breaks new ground with its critical survey of modern Irish poetry takes up where Seán Ó Tuama and Thomas Kinsella left off with their pioneering 1981 selection ‘An Dunaire 1600-1900: Poems of the Dispossessed’.

More

The Mad Muse

Matthew Parkinson-Bennett

An eccentric comic novel by a promising young Irish writer is stylistically ambitious, difficult and truly original. It’s a wonder it got published at all.

More

The View from the Hill

Michael Halpenny

Based on an array of Irish and British contemporary sources, including papers and photographs from private collections, a new study of the revolutionary years in Howth and neighbouring communities combines academic rigour with the pace of an adventure story.

More

The Kingdom of Water

Enda Wyley

A new collection from Noel Duffy sees his verse branch off from the more lyrical and autobiographical work of previous volumes to exhibit greater experimentation in form and theme, with subject matter ranging from physics and thermodynamics, to nature to individual lives.

More

Proof or Imagination?

Frank MacGabhann

A new book on Casement’s Black Diaries refuses to consider the possibility that these were a forgery. One sad consequence of the focus on whether Casement was or was not a homosexual and engaged in predatory acts is that it detracts from his hugely important work as a humanitarian.

More

That’s It, Folks

John Fanning

The last book from the late German sociologist Ulrich Beck offers a grim prognosis for our future as a society, with traditional political institutions helpless before the power of capital and the reactions of right and left devoid of intellectual content, functioning only to let off steam.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the winter of 1784 in East Hampshire, it got so cold, the naturalist Gilbert White observed, that the cats became electrified.

More

Right to the Bitter End

Asked what books he read, Donald Trump replied that he read chapters - chapters of what is not recorded. But should we feel guilty if we don't finish every book we start?

More

The Revolution Eats Its Children

When you play with men, some of them get eaten, Napoleon said. The French leftist Régis Debray was convinced that some of his revolutionary friends got eaten by the Cuban revolution – for reasons of state.

More

John Montague: 1929-2016

The New York-born poet wrote a moving poem of memory of the small place in which he was brought up by relations in a remote part of Co Tyrone.

More

A Painful Case

In 1941, German Jewish mother and daughter refugees Margarete and Irene Brann decided to end their lives in London. The mother died but the daughter survived, and was charged with her mother's murder. On this day 75 years ago she was sentenced to hang.

More

Ah Go On

Samuel Beckett was famous for his gloominess, but also on many occasions seemed able to express it in a way that makes us laugh. Is there a contradiction here, or not?

More

Singing Schubert

There are times when interpreters should realise that explication is not needed. The composer and poet we exist to serve have told us what the message is to be. Our role is simply to deliver it.

More
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.

More

World Literature

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

More

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.

More

World History & Politics

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

More

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'.

More

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.

More

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.

More

More New Books ...