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

Team Amis

Kevin Power

To be accepted into Martin Amis’s canon of great writers you must be a writer, not necessarily of brilliant novels, or even of brilliant chapters, but of brilliant sentences and paragraphs. Plot, form, structure, psychological insight: all of these are secondary matters.

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Slaves to a Myth

Slaves to a Myth

Bryan Fanning

The notion that large numbers of Irish immigrants were once slaves has been mobilised by the American alt-right to deflect from historical and contemporary racism while simultaneously promoting a white nationalist agenda based on claims of white victimhood.

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The Green Island

The Green Island

Philip O’Connor

A valuable study of the treatment of Ireland in sections of the German print media shows an evolution from a reliance on a jumble of cliches about the nation – often of English provenance – to a more informed engagement, particularly on the part of Hamburg’s ‘Die Zeit’.

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The Book’s The Thing

Toby Barnard

A new study of reading in the eighteenth century returns books to the settings in which they were enjoyed, stressing how they were valued as aids to refinement and self-improvement and how frequently they were encountered through being read aloud for the benefit of a group.

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The Rock in Rough Weather

Tom Inglis

Those who still see a future for Irish Catholicism argue that in a materialist and individualistic age it can minister to ‘a deep spiritual hunger’. But there is little evidence that Catholics see church teachings as a means of living a good life, or its prayers and rituals as a means of being spiritual.

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In the Mix

Adrian Scahill

A new study of the traditional music of Co Clare employs an approach which highlights the fluidity and play between periphery and centre, between the dynamic of flow and the rootedness of place, between past and future, music as heritage and music as a creative art.

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With Karl and Groucho

Billy Mills

Augustus Young’s imagined conversations between Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin, taking the form of a Socratic dialogue, range across the role of ideas in art, public versus private, the role of the audience, love, happiness, knowledge, Marx (Karl and Groucho) and racism.

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Meet the Replicants

Manus Charleton

Research, backed by large financial investment, is forging ahead to turn fiction into fact and reproduce human intelligence in androids that approximate to humans. What effect might these efforts, if successful, have on how we perceive and value our own intelligence and consciousness?

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Joe’s Golden Years

Giles Newington

Salman Rushdie’s new novel is set in an America switching from Obama to Trump. While it may not be entirely clear what he is telling us about the ‘post-truth’ world, Rushdie’s primary gift as a storyteller seems to have survived in a story full of verve and invention.

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Troubles with Remembering; or, The Seven Sins of Memory Studies

Guy Beiner

Historians often talk about memory, while actually writing in looser terms about history. There is also a prevalent tendency to confuse memory with historiography, which bolsters a delusional self-image of the professional historian as the primary custodian of communal memory.

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Our Language, Their Babble

Michael Cronin

German concentration and extermination camps were run by the speakers of one language but inhabited by speakers of many others. Interpretation became necessary to both sides. Linguistic skills helped some inmates to survive, but the deployment of these skills could involve a cost.

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The High Deeds of Fionn

Síle Ní Mhurchú

The historical institution of the ‘fían’, on which the Fianna tales are based, provided an outlet for young free-born men, allowing them to improve their hunting and fighting skills. It was, however, seen by the church as a disruptive force, given to robbery and plundering.

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The Way It Is

Jon Smith

The Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard has admitted that he dislikes plots and feels oppressed by fictions. Writing, for him, is rather ‘a matter of trying somehow to reach the real life, how it tastes and feels. And there’s no story in real life. More than anything, stories stand in the way.’

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The Republican Journey

Thomas Fitzgerald

A new study presents a largely sympathetic history of the Provisional Republican Movement as it has gradually moved away from violence and increased its electoral base. It also gives space – and sympathy – to the views of the dissidents, which is both a strength and a weakness.

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So Many Haters

Michael Hinds

Plato did not hate poetry, though he wished to ban poets from the ideal Republic. In such a state you would not want to let it hold sway, even if in a real one it has its critical power and function. In an ideal Republic of course, you would not feel like a drink after a day’s work ...

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Picking Up The Pieces

Joe Breen

Bruce Springsteen’s memoir pulses with intensity and insight born of hours on the psychiatrist’s couch, covering his blue-collar Catholic background, the gruelling tour schedules and recording sessions, the initial paltry returns, then the king’s ransom when luck and labour chime.

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Ordinary Brutalities

Gavin Foster

A new study of the Civil War period argues that intimidation was a commonplace weapon deliberately employed by republicans, their supporters, and others to expel vulnerable ‘out-groups’. But how such victimised groups should be defined or categorised is not always clear.

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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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Making Waves

Patricia Craig

A novel set on Rathlin Island at the end of the nineteenth century takes as its subject the arrival of Marconi’s men to conduct an experiment transmitting sound across the sea. It derives its considerable force from the conjunction of archaism and modernity, the clash of material and immaterial forces.

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Hauntings

Peter Sirr

Mark Granier’s poems are full of skies and hauntings, the missing, the dead, time’s erasures, ‘the slow shift of light’, the closely observing eye lighting on the city and where the city meets light and water and sky. He is, as one poem has it, an eternal ‘cloud watcher, seawatcher’.

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Circuitry of the Snowflake

Florian Gargaillo

The late Elise Partridge’s poems dealing with her cancer note that blurred vision can be a side effect of treatment. Yet even blurred vision - the alphabet letters b and d made out as ‘beer-bellied cousins’ – can for a poet mean enhanced vision, and seeing anew through metaphor and analogy.

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A Bhealach Féin

Ronan Sheehan

The writer and thinker Desmond Fennell has spent nearly seven decades searching for ways in which we – the Irish that is, but not just the Irish – might live a civilised and decent life. If we had already been close to being able to live such a life there would have been no need for the search.

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Hunger Amid Plenty

Margaret Smith

By late 1846 there were 1,207 inmates in Tralee workhouse and families were being turned away, even though they met the admission criteria. In 1847 the famine worsened, yet the wealthy continued to celebrate festive occasions like the Tralee races with lavish dinners and balls.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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 ...