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

Minding The Language

Rachel Andrews
Nor is good prose necessarily something that is found only in fiction: in an essay commemorating Irish Times journalist Dick Walsh, McGahern notes that “the style he forged is highly individual. Mixing the language of the street and field and public house with clear English, it is immediately engaging.” Recalling Orwell, Walsh saw how “slovenliness of language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts”.
Feb 10, 2010, 20:34 PM

Opening Up

Carol Taaffe
To many readers, the attraction lies in this firm refusal of mystery about the act itself (though to Philip Larkin, the prospect of visiting universities to explain how a poem was written was “like going round explaining how you sleep with your wife”). While Paris Review interviews might be sifted for critical insights, they are traditionally the ground where the apprentice writer hunts for clues on the literary trade.
Feb 7, 2010, 18:28 PM

A New Life

Paul Larkin
Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House has lived a lie in order to fulfil the ideal of the perfect marriage. Mrs Alving in Ghosts has played a long-drawn-out game of humouring her husband’s debauchery while being in love with someone else. On discovering that her son Oswald has inherited syphilis from his father she has to decide whether to administer euthanasia. Could there be any greater destruction of an ideal? Time and again in Ibsen’s plays, society’s binding communal ideals are revealed as impossible to attain: the only answer is to break away and live as a free individual.
Feb 1, 2010, 17:55 PM

Synge’s Violin

Adrian Paterson
In requiring “regular metrical pulses” of “folk” music White is surely smarting from an overexposure to the regular grumbling of the bodhran, which indeed the great and grumbling uilleann player Seamus Ennis suggested was best played with a knife. Ennis’s point of course was that folk music lives in the gaps of strict “metre”, and of course the uillean pipes themselves may be played far from the bounds of absolute regularity, to say nothing of the wilds of sean-nós singing.
Feb 4, 2010, 18:12 PM

Into The Mainstream

George O’Brien
According to ethnic fade theory, with the days of “No Irish Need Apply” having been, as it were, officially declared over, there was no longer any need for “Irish” as a social or civic marker any more. Ethnicity became a matter of harmless cultural practices – singing and dancing and observing saints’ days,
Feb 5, 2010, 18:17 PM

How Firm A Foundation?

John-Paul McCarthy
Milch is offering a dramatic version of the phenomenon assessed in Mark S Schantz’s study of how evangelical Protestantism saturated nineteenth century American life and created a powerful culture of death, which actually provoked and sustained the war. A vision of heaven that literally restored bodies to wholeness may have been powerfully compelling to men who were asked for the last full measure of devotion in the 1860s. A great curtain of death hangs over Deadwood too. But there are drinks to be served.
Feb 3, 2010, 18:09 PM

The Melancholy Gods

Eoghan Smith
Hermes records in his narrative the complicated relations of the Godley family, as they wait for the patriarch, Adam, to die. Once a celebrated mathematician, he is a sombre, philosophising intellectual who has never come to terms with the mundanity of ordinary existence. He has suffered a stroke, and although he still has thoughts his total paralysis means he has no way of communicating with his family. He is a sort of disembodied Cartesian ego – ironically a lifelong solipsist, he is now pure consciousness.
Feb 6, 2010, 18:20 PM

Cognitive Tics of the Herd

Paul Daly
Limiting the size of financial institutions seems a likely and probably popular outcome, in the shape of something like the so-called “Volcker Rule”, named after Paul Volcker, formerly the chair of the Federal Reserve and now a key adviser to President Obama. But even here problems abound. To begin with, although Too Big to Fail is an apt title, Ross Sorkin could just as easily have entitled his book Too Interconnected to Fail.
Feb 8, 2010, 18:34 PM

Never Satisfied, Never At Rest

Mark Wallace
Slater compares his letters to Catherine with those he wrote to Maria Beadnell; those from the earlier affair are full of unguarded passion and high-flown rhetoric while those to Catherine are more matter of fact, even stern: “if you really love me I would have you do justice to yourself, and shew me that your love for me, like mine for you, is above the ordinary trickery, and frivolous absurdity which debases the name and renders it ludicrous”. No doubt he had Maria Beadnell’s “trickery” in mind when he wrote this, and his choice of the quiet, placid Catherine for his wife may have constituted a reaction against Maria’s playful coquettishness. It was a decision he was to come to regret.
Feb 9, 2010, 20:30 PM

The Melting Centre

Eckhard Jesse
The electoral decline of the large parties has been accompanied by a massive fall in party membership. Since the early 1990s the SPD has lost over 400,000 members and the CDU nearly 300,000. They have also become less attractive to younger people and this has led to a marked aging of party structures. Almost 50 per cent of the membership of both the CDU and SPD is now over sixty.
Feb 2, 2010, 18:05 PM