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

    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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    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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    A Study of Scarlet

    Catherine Marshall
    Michel Pastoureau’s account of the history of the colour red is in many respects fascinating. But what worked well for his previous studies of black, blue and green comes up a little short for red, a colour which is oceanic and in whose multiplicity of meanings one might well drown.
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    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.
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    Understanding the Alt-Right

    Oisín O’Neill Fagan
    Online culture is a strangely proportioned new world, and it needs a map. Into this space comes Angela Nagle’s persuasive essay ‘Kill All Normies’, which charts the frenetic online culture wars of the last decade, marking and delineating their evolving political mutations.
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    Tales of Wonder

    Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
    Tales of Wonder
    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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    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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    Race & Cash & Rock & Roll

    George O’Brien
    Race & Cash & Rock & Roll
    The record label owner can be seen as the freebooter who turned up treasure in the buried American lives crying out in the hollers of the fields or the hymns of the hollows. Did well out of it too, knowing the ways of copyright and related business niceties. Well, it’s a free country, or so they say.
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    The Swiss Laid Bare

    Fergal Lenehan
    An impressive study by an Irish-born journalist who is a long-time resident in the confederation moves beyond lazy cliche and prejudice, driven by a desire to get the facts about the country straight, and for those facts to be fair and accurate.
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    They’re Selling Postcards of the Stoning

    Jeremy Kearney
    They’re Selling Postcards of the Stoning
    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.
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    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.
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    Philosophy on the Boulevard

    Manus Charleton
    Philosophy on the Boulevard
    The bloom of Existentialism may have faded today - though its presence is still felt in literary work - but fifty years ago every fashionable person wanted to learn about it, the Establishment fretted about it, and almost every journalist seemed to be using it to make a living.
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    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.
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    It Looks Like You’re Writing a Novel

    Tim Groenland
    Home computing and word processing are now so taken for granted that it’s hard to recreate how big a deal their first appearance was. One writer compared the cost of his device to his daughter’s school fees. Another had to have the machine lifted into his house by a crane.
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    Cranking it Out

    Mark Fitzgerald
    The musician John Beckett, cousin of the writer, comes across as a difficult character – some thought a crank. Stories abound of his rudeness, especially with drink taken. His musical tastes too were extreme: Handel was too commercial, Beethoven merely ‘souped-up Haydn’.
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    The End

    Bridget English
    We may well, at bottom, be just ‘frail and vulnerable animals’, but we are more complex than other animals in our approaches to death. We must accept our physical mortality, but as humans we cannot rid ourselves of the desire for consolation or meaning.
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    No Sweat

    Michael Hinds
    James Joyce and Walter Benjamin worked hard over decades to evolve idiosyncratic methods apt for the city-text they wanted to communicate. But Kenneth Goldsmith’s montage version of New York comes from a culture that no longer attaches value to work, only to product.
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    Press Button B

    A raft of books from the US suggests that as a society we have made a Faustian pact with the tech giants and there is now no getting out of it. But have we really lost all freedom of action? Could we not, individually, just turn off our phones for a few hours and go to the library?
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    Your language or mine?

    Michael Cronin
    A language, it has been said, is a dialect with an army, or at the least one with a regional assembly. A new study, which seeks to identify patterns of ecological constraints operating on the circulation of literary texts, suggests that a “language is a dialect with a literature”.
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    Do Right Man

    Manus Charleton
    An initiative sponsored by President Higgins rightly locates ethics as not just a matter of personal behaviour or minimalist professional codes, but as forming the moral fabric of society through values and principles operating within its institutions and practices.
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    God and Reason

    Angelo Bottone
    In traditional accounts, Meister Eckhart has usually been presented as a mystical religious thinker. But a new study argues convincingly that this is a misinterpretation and that Eckhart is a ‘philosopher of Christianity’ who explains Christian beliefs through pure reason.
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    What Lies Behind

    Matthew Parkinson-Bennett
    For John Berger, the truly great artists are those who struggle to break through to the other side. The struggle is against tradition and convention, which serve the interests of the powerful by restricting human possibility to the superficial, immediate and given.
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    Down Among the Dead Men

    John Fleming
    You cannot understand an old city if you are not tuned to the cacophony of tenancy claims that greet you in stairwells as you trudge up to a fifth-floor flat. You are dead inside if you do not heed the joyous calls from beyond the grave of deceased residents.
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    Curation Once Again

    John Fanning
    The current vogue for the term curation arose in tandem with the conceptual art movement, where the idea or concept of art took precedence over the traditional aesthetic, but accelerated in the 1990s when the boundaries between big art, big business and big data began to erode.
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    Lord of the Flies

    Seamus O’Mahony
    Jerry Coyne’s shouty polemic against religion, and against the possibility of any accommodation between science and religious belief, is largely an attack on creationism and ‘ìntelligent design’. It is hard to see it being taken seriously anywhere but in the US.
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    Post-Punk Polymath

    John Fleming
    It is no surprise that such an outstanding lyricist as Elvis Costello should be able to deliver such an engaging autobiography. And for a man who used to punch out an album with a free EP, plus a brace of singles with extra B-sides each year, it is no shock it should be so long.
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    An End to Smiting

    Joe Humphreys
    Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues that it is in a literal interpretation of ‘holy books’ that fundamentalism thrives. He calls for the training of a generation of religious leaders and educators who embrace the world in its diversity and sacred texts in their maximal generosity.
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    Truculent Priest

    Seamus O’Mahony
    In a series of radical critiques published in the 1970s Ivan Illich questioned educational practice, managerialism and the medical profession. Though he could be arrogant, inconsistent and even plain silly, Illich had important things to say about modernity.
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    Really, I’m Stuffed

    John Fanning
    The drive for material goods may well be too deeply entrenched in human beings to be eliminated but perhaps a consciousness that we now have material prosperity beyond our spiritual competence to deal with could lead to more considered patterns of consumption.
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    If You Liked This ...

    Matthew Parkinson-Bennett
    The eminent Milanese writer and publisher Roberto Calasso, chairman of Adelphi Edizioni, has an unusual recipe for commercial success: publish only books that you think are of the highest quality, and become known for publishing only books of the highest quality.
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    A Massacre of Art?

    Catherine Marshall
    A Massacre of Art?
    A stimulating new study, focusing on one painting and its contemporary critical reception, illuminates the French painter Eugène Delacroix, a man who, ‘reactionary in his ideas, romantic in his talent’, was, according to Victor Hugo, in contradiction with his own works.
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    Eternal Ephemera

    Anthony K Campbell
    A new study of evolution features a fascinating autobiographical voyage through the development of the author’s own ideas. Too often scientific teaching in the university relies too much on what are presumed to be facts. Yet many such “facts” turn out later to be ephemeral.
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    The Rolling English Road

    Andrew Lees
    The Rolling English Road
    Jim Phelan, born in the last decade of the nineteenth century in Inchicore in Dublin, was condemned to death for murder, served a long sentence in various prisons and on his release became a tramp, a novelist and a writer and broadcaster on the traditions of tramps and gypsies.
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    An Incendiary Film

    Caroline Hurley
    DW Griffith’s ‘Birth of A Nation’, released a hundred years ago and based on a novel by the Scotch-Irish propagandist Thomas Dixon, portrayed the liberation of the slaves in the US South as a plot against civilisation and has been called the most controversial film of all time.
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    Below Extinction’s Alp

    Seamus O’Mahony
    ‘The Hard Conversation’ is what happens when a doctor reveals to a patient the no longer avoidable truth. But perhaps society should also have a hard conversation about the limits of medical science and the desirability of providing not infinite life but a decent end of life.
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    "Becoming Freud" Review Issue 61

    Ross Skelton

    Ross Skelton responds to a review of Adam Phillips’s Becoming Freud by Seamus O’Mahony in Issue 61 of the drb.

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    The Uses of Art

    John Fanning
    Alain de Botton has been the recipient of much sniffy condescension, being characterised as a chiropractor of the soul. But this is somewhat unfair: he is not trying to make us happy but to help us to understand ourselves better, and he sees art and philosophy as allies in this pursuit.
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    Travel and Cosmopolitanism

    Danielle Petherbridge

    Michelle de Kretser’s Dublin IMPAC Award-shortlisted novel, Questions of Travel, delves into the many meanings of home. The Sri Lankan-born author explores themes of trauma, dislocation and inequity between modern travellers, revealing the disparities between those forced and those free to move around the globe.

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    The Last Chapter

    Enda O’Doherty
    Books and bookselling have been with us for a couple of thousand years, in which time they have progressed out of the libraries and into bookshops and homes, away from institutions and towards individuals. A great success story, but nearly all stories have an ending.
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    Less Thought, More Action

    Antony Tatlow
    Less Thought, More Action
    The German theatre company Schaubühne has toured its surtitled version of Hamlet in a translation which would more be accurately described as a transformation. The interpretation may be daring but the interweaving of meaning and “music” which makes Shakespeare’s language so memorable is lost.
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    The Scruple of Detail

    Michael Cronin
    Shifted whole from one language to another, philosophical terms leave behind a rich history of usage, interpretation, and interaction with other terms. To understand them properly we must recover some of that past, working against the grain of  the monologic of the monoglot.
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    Education for Democracy

    Jonathan Creasy
    Founded in 1933 in western North Carolina, Black Mountain College sought to promote the educational and democratic principles of John Dewey. It had enormous success in attracting major figures to teach but still had some difficulty in implementing racial integration.
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    The Talking Cure

    Seamus O’Mahony
    The Talking Cure
    Sigmund Freud did not care greatly for his patients, and learning and teaching were more to his taste than helping and healing. Nevertheless, psychoanalysis has become in our age the pervasive orthodoxy of self-knowledge, even if its scientific claims are on a par with those of, say, aromatherapy.
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    Worlds in Words

    Sean Sheehan
    Scholarly research into ‘dead’ languages evolved over many centuries into an intellectual discipline which was to become the backbone of universities' humanities departments. The history of this progress is the subject of an impressive and hugely industrious new work.
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    Deeper than God

    Manus Charleton
    Dworkin argues that, as well as religious theists, there are many others who because they believe the universe is inherently ordered while at the same time reaching beyond our comprehension, should also be regarded as religious. He calls them religious atheists. Among scientists, Einstein is the most famous religious atheist. 
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    Warts and All

    Patrick Gillan
    Warts and All
    John Deakin recorded in his photographs the Soho of the 1950s, a bohemia inhabited by painters like Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud and poets like WS Graham and George Barker. Though his portraits are often harsh, they are not devoid of sympathy, or pity for those crushed by life.
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    The Utility of Inquiry

    Nicholas Canny
    Many of the challenges put forward to ‘pure’ research in the humanities have been mounted before – by Jeremy Bentham and his followers – in the nineteenth century. They were also quite eloquently answered, by the likes of Arnold, Ruskin, Newman and John Stuart Mill.
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    Nobody’s Perfect

    Frank Freeman
    The Stoic philosopher Seneca offered useful advice on self-mastery, how to deal with the passage of time and the vanity of acquisitiveness. If he did not always live up to the highest ideals himself, it can at least be said in his defence that he lived in difficult times.
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    God is Dead, Long Live Religion

    Matthew Parkinson-Bennett
    According to Terry Eagleton, the history of the modern age is among other things the search for a viceroy for God. Yet it has been difficult for any substitute to emulate religion’s success, to bridge the gap, as it does, between high and low, elite and masses, rarefied ideas and common practice.
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    Epiphanies and Voids

    Pádraig Murphy
    Attention to the apparently insignificant is a particular feature of Japanese art. It is an aspect of Zen’s emphasis on giving attention not to theory or to abstract truth, but to concrete, existing reality, the here and now.
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    The Modernist Moment

    Tom Hennigan
    Brazil, in the mid-twentieth century, saw a spectacular flourishing of architecture and town planning, associated with names like Niemeyer and Costa. But since then chaos and venality have returned, with builders rather than architects in the driving seat and recent hopes that the World Cup could be a game-changer disappointed.
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    The People’s Music

    Jeremy Kearney
    The British folk music scene began to thrive through its extensive club circuit in the 1950s and gave a platform to many Irish singers. It was seldom without tension, however, between purists like Ewan MacColl and others who put greater stress on enjoyment.
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    Ahead of the Curve

    Peter Brooke
    The Vorticist painter Wyndham Lewis believed that art best serves human personality by being impersonal, by affirming space and the full maturity of the object, fixity, against the fleeting moment, the accidental by-products of a process.
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    Hoops of Steel

    Chris Lawn
    At a time when people feel they need social media to keep track of the number of their so-called friends and ‘followers’, a philosophical study invites us to ask ‘who is my friend?’ and reflect on what quality of friendship qualifies as ‘real’.
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    The Last Post

    Michael Cronin
    The Last Post
    Animals have been divided into those we watch TV with, those we eat and those we’re scared of. If ‘becoming animal’ is understood in Hiberno-English as an unfortunate consequence of excessive alcohol consumption, here it is rather a way of perceiving that we exist on a planet that we share with innumerable other species that we continue to destroy in vast numbers.
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    The Goggle Box

    David Blake Knox
    Television has been accused of dumbing down the population almost since it was invented. For TS Eliot even the word itself was ugly and foreign. Noel Coward thought it ‘hideous and horrid’, while those on the left feared it would seduce the working classes and liquidate their sense of class solidarity.
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    Noises from Beneath

    Angela Nagle
    Noises from Beneath
    Cyberutopians promised us the Internet would bring the end of hierarchies, industry, nationalism and gender oppression. But its political claims have proven largely empty while it has continued to spawn a particularly vicious male geek culture of obscenity and misogyny
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    Takes All Kinds

    Sean Sheehan
    Herodotus was intensely interested in all forms of oddity or unfamiliarity, whether relating to human behaviour or geographical curiosity. Everything is a fish that comes into his net, yet he writes without any assumption of cultural superiority attaching to his status as a Greek.
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    Ulysses and Africa

    Sean Sheehan
    A new book seeks to consider writers' responses to Homer from an anticolonial or postcolonialist perspective.
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    What’s funny?

    Máirtín Coilféir
    There have been many attempts to define the essence of humour but it seems to be a little too complex and wide-ranging to be captured by any single theory.
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    Does Europe Exist?

    Enda O’Doherty
    Does Europe Exist?
    Does culture reside only in particular nations and national traditions or can we speak of a European culture? And if we can, what might it be and how can we best preserve it?
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    The Curator of Chiaroscuro

    Sean Sheehan
    Sebastião Salgado’s latest book of photographs represents nature more as a New Age dream of harmony rather than the random mayhem and violent contingency it actually is.
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    Street Smart

    Fintan Vallely
    Lyrics have been defined as short poems written to the accompaniment of a musical instrument, but should Paul Muldoon’s lyrics be judged primarily as poems or as songs?
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    An Awfully Big Adventure

    Enda O'Doherty

    Patrick Leigh Fermor was a man of great talents who inspired affection and deep friendship among those who knew him and who was fortunate in the friends he made.
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    Soundtrack to the Century

    Kevin Stevens

    For fifty years, Duke Ellington was America’s most important and innovative musical figure, achieving distinction as a composer, arranger, songwriter, bandleader and pianist, and writing and producing timeless music of every kind.
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    As Fresh as a Cliché

    Paula McGrath

    We strive for originality, but perhaps old phrases should, like Mae West’s discarded lovers, be given a new chance with someone else.
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    HEADS STUCK IN A BOOK

    Angela Bourke
    A woman reading is in a world of her own, not in the world of others managing or nurturing, where some think she belongs.
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    The Sea of Anecdotes

    Brian Earls
    While this merriment was afoot, I lay on my bunk straining to understand, and to be admitted to some small share of the pleasure which the rest of the company evidently derived from the recitals. At first the rapid flow of speech and varying voices and styles proved impenetrable. The joy of Russian jokes.
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