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

Tales of Wonder

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne

What we call fairytales rarely feature fairies, but they recount, in a rich code of metaphors and symbols, the journey of human beings from childhood to adulthood. They are simple and profound, in structure elementary and unfussy, in ideas basic and universal, in style beautiful and attractive.

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Desperately Seeking Focus

Desperately Seeking Focus

Catherine Marshall

An exhibition that confuses painting with reportage does not make for great art. History painting is not and was never meant to be reportage. Rather its aims were to instil feelings of reverence for the heroes of the past and pride in the stories that shape a nation’s identity.

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Lost on Leeside

Lost on Leeside

Carol Taaffe

The hero of Lisa McInerney’s ‘The Glorious Heresies’ is back in her second novel, ‘The Blood Miracles’. Ryan Cusack, now pushing twenty-one, has just come out of hospital confused and depressed. He has been offered a rebirth of sorts but new beginnings are not easy.

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Sharing the Island

John Swift

In the difficult and protracted Cypriot peace talks both sides need to take a cooler and more imaginative look at what they have chosen to remember, and, most importantly, what they have chosen to forget. Each in fact has much to regret as well as to commemorate in their common history.

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A Century in Print

Andrew Carpenter

Toby Barnard’s quirky and often humorous study of Irish publishing in the eighteenth century contains an immense quantity of information gleaned from a huge variety of sources, all woven into a single colourful tapestry. It is the richest work on the subject ever accomplished.

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A Servant of the Crown

Charles Lysaght

When old age pensions were introduced in 1908 there was a fear among senior administrators in Ireland that they would be massively abused by ‘a class of people who have brought scheming for the purposes of obtaining state and charitable aid to a pitch of perfection’.

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Reading the Revolution

Sean Sheehan

A plethora of new books has appeared this year, accompanied by a number of exhibitions, in response to the centenary of the Russian Revolution, the remarkable political energies it released worldwide throughout the twentieth century and its still contested historical legacy.

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Before Babel

Paul O’Mahoney

Nineteenth century linguistic scholarship led to the identification of a language family designated as ‘Indo-European’. The demonstration that ancient Western languages such as Latin or Greek were related to similar Eastern languages permitted the hypothesis of a common mother language.

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Faith of Our Fathers

James Moran

A history of Catholicism in Britain and Ireland written by a non-believer gives a broadly sympathetic view, through a fast-paced narrative that begins with the Reformation and continues until the twenty-first century, full of clear-eyed judgments about a cast of heroes and villains.

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The Business of America

Emmet Oliver

A history of US capitalism and its dealings with governments suggests that Americans have a love-hate relationship with their business elites. It also suggests that the power of business has ebbed and flowed over time in response to popular demands to tame its excesses.

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Sonic Reinventions

Jonathan C Creasy

In the collection Alive, Elizabeth Willis proves herself a lyric poet, a pastoral poet, a prose poet, an historical poet, a political poet, a ‘language’ poet, a post-modern sonneteer, a list-maker, an ironic prankster, a confessionalist, and a minimalist, at least.

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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

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

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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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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 ...