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

Reasonable Doubt

Frank Callanan

A study of Joyce’s literary use of the law by the late Adrian Hardiman stresses the writer’s ‘persistent assertion of the need for philosophical and judicial doubt as a proper, moral and humane reaction to the inadequacy of evidence’.

More
The Russian Troika

The Russian Troika

Pádraig Murphy

The history that played out for Lenin and his commissars, who assumed dictatorial powers, was built on tactical opportunism coupled with simple good luck. One of the first acts was the setting up of the Cheka political police, with the slogan “Death to the bourgeoisie” written on its walls.

More
Compassion, Empathy, Flapdoodle

Compassion, Empathy, Flapdoodle

Seamus O’Mahony

Neuroscientific speculation has escaped from the laboratory and is now the rickety foundation for scores of bestselling, populist books. The sceptical writer and journalist Steven Poole has described the phenomenon as ‘an intellectual pestilence’ and ‘neurotrash’.

More

Time After Time

Tom Cleary

It has been estimated that the population of Ireland may reach 10 million by 2050; a sizeable proportion of that number will not be ‘native Irish’. Hungary, resistant to immigration, now has 10 million inhabitants, the same as eighty years ago, and this will very probably fall.

More

Deep Work at Dollarton

Shane Barry

Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano was greeted on its publication as a ‘magnificent, tragic, compassionate, and beautiful book’. Yet its author was a far from beautiful person. How did a chronic alcoholic with a chaotic, violent lifestyle manage to write such a work?

More

A Soul in Wonder

Sean O’Hogain

As a poet, Michael Longley has so many sides to him that he is, for all practical purposes, round. His lyrical gift is wedded to a lightly worn but well-used education, an eye for detail and an ear for music.

More

In Love With Death

Eugene Brennan

Is Islam a violent or a peaceful religion? Rather than cherrypicking the sacred texts, we might be better served by sociology and reception studies: rather than trying to decipher what the Quran says, that is, one might usefully listen to what Muslims think and say it says.

More

The Virags and the Blooms

Martin Greene

Ulysses may have no story, but it does contain a multitude of little ones. Though artfully assembled, these can also be difficult to follow because the information provided is often incomplete, widely dispersed, presented out of sequence or hidden in obscure passages of text.

More

His Poor Materials

Liam Harrison

Samuel Beckett’s fidelity to ‘trash’ objects – boots, bikes, bowler hats, crutches - his persistent use of them in different mediums, indicates that such objects held a unique position in his creative process, forming an ‘art of salvage’ which can be traced across his life’s work.

More

Leading from the Left

Jeremy Kearney

The remarkable rise of Jeremy Corbyn has changed the nature of the political debate in the UK. By highlighting the failure of the austerity agenda and the neoliberal ideology that underpinned it, he has returned left-wing ideas to the centre of political discourse.

More

Christian Knowledge

Tom Inglis

Sociology, as taught in late twentieth century Ireland, was a discipline in which there was no interrogation of power, no analysis of social class, no questioning of patriarchy, no theorising about the role of the state and, in particular, no examination of the power of the Catholic church.

More

The German Friend

Gisela Holfter

Heinrich Böll, born a hundred years ago, had a unique relationship with Ireland. He and his wife played a huge role, as translators, in introducing German readers to Irish literature. His own book the ‘Irisches Tagebuch’ was a huge seller in Germany - though more controversial here.

More

The Bully and the ‘Beast’

Jon Smith

Shouting and tantrums are common in Fleet Street newsrooms, but it is only at the ‘Daily Mail’ that swearing and abuse have been elevated to a culture. Its editor makes no secret of this behaviour, apparently believing that ‘shouting creates energy and energy creates great headlines’.

More

At Home in Exile

Scott Beauchamp

Czesław Miłosz may perhaps be understood as the saint of paradox. He was a man who documented his century by standing apart from it, a poet who wrote in Polish while living in France and America, a sensualist who embraced the spiritual, a man who reached home by running away.

More

Sweet and Sour

Anthony Roche

The trajectory of Molly Keane’s life was different from most other people’s and most other writers’: the tragedy – the early death of her husband ‑came early and the triumph late. But what a triumph – three sparkling and successful late novels written in her late seventies and eighties.

More

Defining Utopia

Philip MacCann

Utopian imaginings were alive and well in eighteenth century Ireland and could be found not just in pamphlets but in vision poems and travellers’ tales, speeches, manifestos and proclamations and the practical improving projects of philanthropic societies like the Dublin Society (later the RDS).

More

Quick! What Would You Read?

Matthew Parkinson Bennett

Writing is tough, but Annie Dillard doesn’t put on a performance of her struggle to transmute experience into literature. She is a writer who believes – how old-fashioned! – in the possibility of truly powerful literature and its urgent importance, in reaching towards an imagined reader, and touching a real one.

More

Beyond Anger

John Fanning

If the centre-left is to regain some influence in politics it will have to become more interesting. Accepted wisdom on becoming more interesting these days seems to revolve around finding the right “personality”. But let us not forget the importance of policies and ideas.

More

Those Who Remain

Julia O’Mahony

The new collection from Katie Donovan presents an unflinching look at the realities of living with and caring for a husband with a terminal illness while also acknowledging the chance fragments of joy she experiences as she continues to raise her young family.

More

Whiskey In The Jar

Keith Payne

An intoxicating new study of Irish pot still whiskey tells us what it is and how it is made, while also managing to bring into the blend economic and social history, gastronomy, revolution, science and alchemy, Prohibition, Catholic Emancipation and the temperance movement.

More

The City Spreads Out

Erika Hanna

Dublin is often celebrated as a Georgian city, or a medieval or Viking one. But for many Dubliners it has been essentially a mid-twentieth century city. It was in these decades, from the 1930s through to the 1960s, that the suburbs where many of us grew up were built.

More

Wandering in the Desert

Ruth Gilligan

Joyce is just one Irish writer who is alert to the Exodus story and its specific resonance within a national context. Hence the parallel between Moses and Parnell, each of whom ‘led a turbulent and unstable people from the house of shame to the verge of the Promised Land’.

More

The Ascent of Women

Ann Kennedy Smith

‘The average standard of mental power in man must be above that of women,’ Charles Darwin asserted. The opinion was perhaps surprising given the number of talented and active women he knew personally, as well as the wide-ranging social disadvantages they faced as a sex.

More

A Life of Noticing

Gerald Dawe

The mastery of American English which we associate with Richard Ford’s fiction – the subtle not-saying, the deflection of painful emotional realities into half-said or half-seen things – is abundantly present in a memoir in which he recalls and recreates the lives of his parents.

More

The Trap

Clare O'Dea

A compelling and thoroughly researched novel focuses on the experiences of the refugees and the clients of people traffickers as they are ‘processed’ through the British asylum system, often towards a bleak conclusion, while struggling to maintain some dignity and hope.

More

The Most Distressful Country

Joseph Woods

In the mid-1830s a liberal Hungarian aristocrat and writer made a journey through Ireland. Inspired by Daniel O’Connell’s campaigning, he wrote that England, while being viewed by the world as great and upholding the rights of man, was now ‘trembling before the country she has enslaved’.

More

The Return

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

After a life lived mainly ‘elsewhere than in Ireland’, Harry Clifton returned to live in Portobello, near his boyhood home. The return brings with it some foreboding: will the past and its ghosts rush forward to embrace him? Mind you, he’s not the only one who is out of place.

More

Innocent Abroad

Siobhán Parkinson

Alan McMonagle’s debut novel has been compared to McCabe’s ‘The Butcher Boy’ and Ryan’s ‘The Spinning Heart’. He has nothing to fear from the comparisons. This is an assured and poised, hilarious and poignant work, both clever and touching, a tour de force.

More

The Power of Nine

Catherine Phil MacCarthy

Paula Meehan’s discovery of countercultural influences has long been a strategy of her poetic process, and the idea of divination is the holding pattern for this collection. The first poems are love songs to the moon and sea, the last to a sense of home, on an Aegean island, Ikaria.

More

Ars Poetica

Jane Clarke

Louise C Callaghan’s welcome new collection is shaped as a quartet, with the parts sharing core themes. The first treats of a Dublin childhood; the second features tributes to other admired poets; the third evokes the Aran Islands and the fourth the painter – and man – Francisco Goya.

More

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.

More

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.

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

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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?

More

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.

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
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 ...