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

Increments of Uncertainty

Kevin Stevens
As Updike’s word count mounted, so did the rancour. The New York Times’s Michiko Kakutani, considered by many the most powerful literary critic in America, regularly savaged his work. Over the last decade she accused successive novels of being “bogus in every respect”, “shopworn”, “cringe-making” and “claustrophobic”. Indeed the regularity of her vitriol was such that that when she gave the posthumously published My Father’s Tears a favourable notice, literary blogger Shane Barry commented: “We now know what Updike had to do to get a good review out of Kakutani.”
Sep 11, 2009, 18:18 PM

The School of Cool

George O’Brien
Tin Pan Alley’s imaginative impoverishment, its slack tempi and banal lyrics, were nothing but expressions of limits and control, as ersatz as they were dispassionate. This kind of thing might be Big Brother’s idea of a good time, but it was pretty obviously just another of the many mind games he practised back in the good old days, when he wasn’t the family member he’s since become. One thing about progressive music was that it came across as self-consciously averse to being commercial. This greatly helped its sales.
Dec 9, 2008, 17:23 PM

Belonging And Becoming

Denis Sampson
It would seem that it was in Beckett that he found the literary model for a kind of narrative based on a deconstruction of received knowledge, on doubt as an instrument of style that could be inserted into an historical reconstruction, and, indeed, for a defence of the individual person and an openness to a visionary spirituality.
Dec 6, 2011, 15:35 PM


Enda O'Doherty

Jane Austen inherited a tradition in which the novel was expected to teach good behaviour. But that was not what interested her. Her fictions are less moral examples than celebrations of wit and intelligence.

Nov 13, 2012, 15:04 PM

The Big D

Seamus O’Mahony
Christopher Hitchens was famously sceptical of the claims of religious thinkers, yet faced with dying he exhibited a defiant faith in the capacities of medical science to block the course of nature, a faith not sustained by much evidence.
Apr 8, 2013, 19:21 PM

The Modernist Volcano

Stephen Wilson
Dec 6, 2007, 21:46 PM

To Aran or Isfahan

Paul O'Brien
Sep 4, 2007, 19:31 PM

Island Sickness

Tom Hennigan
Long divided, Argentines finally found national unity under the leadership of the continent’s most murderous regime and its campaign to retake the Malvinas.
Nov 19, 2012, 16:49 PM

Man of Constant Sorrow

Ben McGuire
Brian Lynch’s subtle first novel, The Winner of Sorrow, is based on the life of William Cowper, a hugely acclaimed poet in late eighteenth century England whose work has gone into neglect in the last hundred years.
Jan 10, 2007, 18:43 PM

Northern Miniaturist

Brian Lynch
Dec 1, 2007, 17:58 PM

Sacred Egoist

Michael McDonald
The Italian critic and editor Roberto Calasso enjoys a considerable reputation among the literary-critical elite, but how much substance or originality is there in his anti-rational musings?
Apr 21, 2013, 17:31 PM

The Inside Man

Stephen Wilson
An unorthodox, non-doctrinaire leftist, Gore Vidal tended to make would-be political allies uncomfortable and was not an easy individual with whom to make common cause.
Nov 13, 2012, 15:02 PM

All Things Considered

Enda O’Doherty
As a child, Czesław Miłosz wrote, 'I was primarily a discoverer of the world, not as pain but as beauty ... Happiness experienced in boyhood does not disappear without a trace.'
Mar 3, 2011, 18:18 PM

Not Pulling Punches

David Askew
As Swift knew, his complex irony can be challenging. He was aware that he had often been misunderstood, to his own detriment. Looking back on his own life, he concluded that “Had he but spar’d his Tongue and Pen, / He might have rose like other Men”. His irony, Hammond observes, “sometimes seems to saw through the branch of religious orthodoxy upon which he tried to perch”.
May 6, 2010, 17:31 PM

The Need to Disguise

Kevin Stevens
Central to Alice Munroe’s aesthetic is the device, though it is really much more than a device, of jumping back and forward in time, enabling readers to hold multiple strands of the narrative in their consciousness, creating cross-sections of event and feeling that allow for rich expression of pathos and irony.
Nov 9, 2009, 21:21 PM

And Another Thing

Enda O’Doherty
The most recent translation of WG Sebald’s work offers the expected pleasure of his engaging prose style and an introduction to the world of some intriguing German writers.
May 6, 2013, 16:34 PM

The Hunger Angel

Siobhán Parkinson
Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller looked with the eyes of the victim on the political masters of terror and called it by its name.
May 20, 2013, 16:14 PM

One Book, Two Cities

Tom Wall
James Plunkett’s classic novel reminds us of a society in which the poorest lived in the most appalling and hopeless conditions and the middle and upper classes were barely conscious of their existence.
May 20, 2013, 16:46 PM

Hopkins’s Wound

Sean Sheehan
Gerard Manley Hopkins was careless of the fate of his poems, treated his muse like a slut and her children as an unwanted and vaguely sinful burden.
May 20, 2013, 16:38 PM

Staring Down the Barrel

Susan McCallum-Smith
Some critics have found the protagonist of Claire Messud’s new novel unlikeable, which is not just absurd but ironic, given that the novel’s premise is society’s expectations of women’s behaviour.
Jun 16, 2013, 21:41 PM