Flattering the people

If, as politicians like to assert, the people aren't stupid, why do we have a word for it? Surely it wasn't coined just for Afghan hounds.
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Monkey Business

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu met the divil on the bus. Very freaky.
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Le Fanu's dark imagination

Less well known, but probably a better writer than Bram Stoker, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was born two hundred years ago today.
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More gin for the editor

William Maginn, who died 170 years ago today, was a child prodigy from Cork who became a brilliant newspaper editor in London. But sadly, the drink got to him.
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The birth of Irish democracy

Did Irish democracy develop in the 1920s in the early years of the new state or were it seeds sown a long time before?
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Home is a sad place

With his fortieth birthday the realisation came to Philip Larkin that he had done nothing with the `fat fillet-steak' part of life.
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The sentences in my head

László Krasnahorkai talks to George Szirtes about how he writes and what he reads.
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Why they went to war

Why did the soldiers join up and go to be slaughtered in France, Belgium or Gallipoli? Sometimes because the misery of their lives made them think that anything would be better.
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Paxman in Meath

The popular television presenter and historian will be lecturing next week at the Hay Festival Kells on the Great War, an event about which he has a very clear and simple idea.
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Forty days of sunshine

The Book of Kells will be joined by some other outstanding Irish manuscripts on display in Trinity College Dublin in 2016.
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A bookselling institution

The famous Foyle's bookshop in central London is moving to a spectacularly beautiful new premises just down the road from its traditional Charing Cross Road pitch.
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Something for everybody - one hopes

A hugely impressive list of guests has been put together for the Edinburgh international books festival, which runs in mid-August.
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Cruel, cruel Margaret Stackpoole

James Clarence Mangan, a lad from the Liberties, went courting a posh girl up in Ranelagh. At first things seemed to be going well ...
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If you gotta go ...

Former French prime minister Michel Rocard, in a resounding 'J'accuse!', tells the British that if they want to leave the EU they should just do that, and quickly too. Really, they've done quite enough damage inside.
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Sumer is icumen in - or not

A new book celebrates the seasons. But tell me again, how many of them are there?
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Adventures in Egypt

An episode from the early 1880s shows a young Augusta Gregory sympathising with an oppressed people and its revolutionary leaders - far from Ireland.
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Ireland's Huguenots

Ireland's Huguenot community - originally Calvinist refugees from persecution in France, produced many notable Irishmen, including Tom Lefroy, the man Jane Austen had hoped to marry, and the Gothic novelist Charles Maturin, author of Melmoth the Wanderer.
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Penguin relaunches Pelican

A hugely successful experiment in popular intellectual publishing, established in the 1930s and abandoned at the end of the Thatcherite 1980s, is being relaunched.
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Javier Cercas at Smock Alley

One of Spain's leading novelists, whose works explore memory and the attribution of good and evil to incidents of historical conflict, is visiting Dublin.
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The Peasant Poet

John Clare, the Northamptonshire peasant poet who died 150 years ago, is not getting the commemoration he deserves in Britain.
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