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

Where The Wild Things Live

Patricia Craig

Many books for the young, whether about animals and their habitats or children on a ‘wilderness’ adventure, contain a message which an attentive child may grasp, laying the ground for a future respect for nature, kindness to animals and aversion to environmental destruction.

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Endgame

John Swift

In the long Home Rule crisis of the second decade of the twentieth century, John Redmond, the leader of constitutional nationalism, counted too much on unreliable British allies. His rival, Edward Carson, was a more able tactician, more daring and decisive, and perhaps less unlucky.

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No Way Out

Síofra Pierse

Denis Diderot’s novel The Nun, posthumously published in 1796, is an indictment of the practice of locking up young women against their will in convents. It strikes an uncanny echo in Ireland, where the last punishment facility of the type known as the Magdalene laundry closed 200 years later.

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Back to Basics

Tom Wall

Much of the gloom about European politics and society is rather overdone, particularly given the recent economic recovery, admittedly still fragile. It is undeniable, however, that social democracy has lost ground. Might its future lie in returning to the vigorous pursuit of equality?

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An Idea Madder than Usual

Martin Greene

It is well-known that Joyce drew on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs when writing the sadomasochistic scenes in Ulysses. Masoch’s name today may be chiefly linked to ‘SM’ porn, but there is more to Venus in Furs than that, and indeed more to Masoch than one book.

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Tyrant-Time

Paul Walsh

Tyrannies, ancient and modern, depend on myths, myths which cement the leader in power and demolish any arguments against his rule (and it’s almost always a him); they promote and naturalise an identity as fixed as the North Star, bringing all minds into orbit round an idea.

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And Who Are Your People?

Mairéad Carew

In the 1930s American academics carried out a range of studies in European countries whose citizens had a tradition of emigration to the US. The measurement of skulls and other tests, it was felt, could determine which peoples were ‘eugenically fit’ and which were rather a bad lot.

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One Size Fits All

Eoin Dillon

Economic history, Paul Bairoch wrote, teaches us that no rule or law in economics is valid for every period of history or every economic structure. So why are European models, based on the myth of the rational homo economicus, still so prevalent in African development economics?


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The Spud’s Companion

Caroline Hurley

Ireland has of course been long associated, for both good and ill, with the potato. Its most delicious accompaniment, butter, has a long history too, much of it associated with Munster and with the sophisticated system which led to a thriving industry in Cork in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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Beyond the Laws

Robert Looby

Lovers of the plain, the spare, the rational should perhaps avoid Bruno Schulz, an apparently ‘modest teacher’ from a Polish provincial town in whose stories matter has infinite fecundity and we are invited to feel for a table hammered together from ‘alien races of wood that hate one another’.

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Your Tribe or Mine?

John Wilson Foster

Multiculturalism has encouraged a rollback from frank discussion, substituting carefully monitored speech in which the identity of the speaker, not the truth-value of what is said, is paramount: candid observation tends less to stimulate debate than fury and grotesquely exaggerated reaction.

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Too Dark Altogether

Angus Mitchell

The Congo Free State, a territory in which Belgium’s King Leopold II ran a hugely murderous regime of exploitation at the turn of the twentieth century, had been called ‘darkest Africa’. On this darkness, not of course innate, the campaigner ED Morel shone a strong light.

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Wilkommen go hÉirinn

Fergal Lenehan

Some people in the 1960s worried about Germans buying up Irish land. In the previous decade, however, an Irish government had set about seriously trying to attract German industry. If the immediate fruits were modest, an organisational model was established for future success.

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Rousing the People

Timothy King

Populist elements in UKIP and the Tory party in Britain have succeeded in engineering a dramatic decision the country will very probably live to regret. What would it take to get a successful populist movement in Ireland going, and what issues would it campaign on?

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Why not both?

Carmel Heaney

More and more people describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’. Yet perceptions of what it is to be religious have changed significantly and broadened over the last sixty years. Perhaps, for a good life, we need not just human rights culture but the Sermon on the Mount.

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A Reading from the Book of Drones

Kevin Hargaden

Marilynne Robinson is a great admirer of former president Barack Obama, and he of her. The gentle humanism they share, however, can only be accepted at face value at the cost of ignoring the civilian victims of America’s war on terror, poor people in faraway places, who it seems don’t count.

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The World I Like

Sean Finnan

Far from being a public space, the internet as shaped by social media and personalised search engines sets up a space of absolute closeness, eliminating the outside. Here one encounters oneself and one’s own life. Communal public action to effect political change could not be further away.

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In Cold Blood

John Fanning

It has been euphemistically categorised as ‘enhanced interrogation’, but Jean Améry, who suffered it at the hands of the Gestapo, called it ‘methodical violence, the equivalent of rape’, adding that ‘whoever has succumbed to torture can no longer feel at home in the world’.

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Gazing Heavenwards

Gerard Smyth

The challenge in our secular age for a poet engaging with the spiritual and religious is how to sound the authentic note. To this end James Harpur fetches images from the religious art and symbolism of the past, renewing and refreshing them in his language of ‘pure clear words’.

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A Fire in the Brain

Declan O’Driscoll

James Joyce never wanted to believe that his daughter could not be cured of her mental illness, saying ‘whatever spark or gift I possess has been transmitted to Lucia and has kindled a fire in her brain’. The problem was, however, that the fire could not be extinguished.

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The Traumatic Quotidian

Paul Murphy

Conor O'Callaghan's new collection often deals with rather mundane events, the primary material of life perhaps, rather than subjects more associated with the epic, but from this he often fashions something original and valuable.

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Last Waltz, First Waltz

Enda Wyley

Joseph Woods’s new collection takes the reader on a tour through many exotic places ‑ the Chinese Pacific, the Irrawaddy river, the Western Cape, Chicago – but returns to the more familiar Irish Midlands and West and the persisting links through generations, from ailing parents to infant daughter.

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Moongaze More Often

Keith Payne

Matthew Sweeney’s last collection is bright with painters: Lowry, Van Gogh, Goya, for the most part painters of possibility, or Paula Modersohn-Becker, who moved with Rilke and Rodin and whom Rilke once described as ‘half held in thrall, yet already seizing control’.

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I Would Prefer Not To

Catherine Kelly

In Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel a young woman attempts to whittle her life back to an extreme stillness. Orphaned, disillusioned with the art world and insulated from the need to work by a large inheritance, she can find no particular reason to participate at all.

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Just Wade In

Jean O’Brien

Reading John O’Donnell’s poetic work, the word constant comes to mind: it is the nub of everything he writes. He has an intrinsic core of honesty, humanity and steadiness; we are in safe hands here.

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The Mobile Cave

Catalin Partenie

The students may be sitting in the lecture theatre, but they are not thinking about the lecture. No, they are thinking about what messages they may have received on the phones in their pockets. That pull is stronger than anything else. It’s time to talk to the top man.


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Mending, after the Fall

Enda Wyley

The idea that even if injured we keep going is at the emotional core of Mark Roper’s new collection – a book of poems which is persistent in laying bare both the pain and happiness of being alive, while always looking to the forces of the natural world for guidance.

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Home As Hell

Carlo Gébler

Tara Westover’s childhood was dominated by her father’s apocalyptic beliefs. She was born at home, and never had a birth certificate. She never went to hospital, or to a dentist, or school. Eventually she escaped, but realised that she knew nothing – or nothing that is true – about the world.

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Towards a Coalition of Hope

Fergus O’Ferrall

The Christian commitment to the core elements of a flourishing society is shared by civic republican philosophy ‑ the secular outlook which ought to underpin and shape the republic which is established in Ireland. It is time for the two to come together to provide an alternative to neo-liberalism.

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Through to Delight

Magdalena Kay

There is a sense of joy in Derek Mahon’s latest collection, which long-time readers may see as a hard-won peace with a world, and a life, that has all too often shown its undelightful side. The brightness of these visions has been earned.

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In Search of Richard Murphy

Benjamin Keatinge

Richard Murphy felt out of place in American universities, where his students equated poetry with self-expression. As Gerald Dawe has recently suggested, Murphy was always a poet of other people, whose poems are not about himself at all but about ‘others’ and their reality.

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Bleak New World

Carlo Gébler

Julian Gough’s new novel portrays a world that we are already well on the way to – one in which human concerns are very much outweighed by issues of the control of ‘tech’. It’s perhaps a problem that a certain kind of reader remains unmoved by tech and stubbornly interested in people.

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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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A Killer for President

Brazil, the world's fourth largest democracy, faces the prospect of electing a violent and threatening military man as president. He can be stopped, but only if the other parties come together to save the situation.

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Candide in the Eternal City

A French novel of the 1950s portrayed a still pagan Rome in which cardinals were addicted to scheming, money could buy sainthood and truth was not as simple to a young priest as it had once seemed. The novel was shocking for the time and was banned in Italy.

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Brothers in Religion

Two seventeenth century siblings from north Donegal are said to have become, through an odd set of circumstances, ministers of rival religions, one an Anglican minister the other a Franciscan friar. The story is thought to be the source of the Gaelic lament ‘Fil, fil, aroon’.

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A Mission for the Führer

In May 1940, the German spy Hermann Goertz parachuted into Ireland, his mission to induce the IRA to hinder the British war effort by mounting attacks in Northern Ireland. He remained at large for a surprisingly long time, with many protectors, among whom women featured particularly strongly.

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Yeats at Ballylee

Rarely read and barely performed, Yeats’s plays are mostly forgotten by theatre companies – despite considerable virtues of portability, adaptability and cheapness. A recent performance at Thoor Ballylee in Galway of ‘The Only Jealousy of Emer’ marvellously shows what can be done.

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A pase around old Dublin

John Speed’s 1610 Dublin map is one of the best-known images of the city, a picture of an intimate medieval town which was soon to embark on its modern expansion. Speed himself, writes Peter Sirr, may never have visited Dublin, rather having, as he cheerfully admitted, ‘put my sickle into other mens corne’.

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Tuam Excavation

Ninety writers and artists call for a complete excavation and enumeration of the victims of Tuam. Memorialisation is not enough.

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Out of the Dark

The McGaherns lived in a poor, rickety house in the middle of a field. All that is left now is a rusty gate in a prickly hedge and an empty, rushy meadow. It is extraordinary to think that out of this remote and unpromising place came a great writer and literature of world renown.

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He'll Light the Fire

Graham Nash, transported from the 60s pop band The Hollies and the cold rain of Manchester to the sun of California and a role in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSNY), visits Dublin this week. His songs, well aged in the bottle, are like a shaft of sunlight into dark times.

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A Funny Old Game

English and Russian fans may have kicked and punched one another and smashed windows at the Euros in Marseille in 2016, but rival Irish and Belgian fans staged such a funny joint street party in Bordeaux that mayor Alain Juppé called them ‘a disgrace to hooliganism’.

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Every third thought will be my grave

Philip Roth once said of fellow writers Saul Bellow and John Updike: ‘[they] hold their flashlights out into the world, [and] reveal the world as it is now. I dig a hole and shine my flashlight into the hole.’ There is no hole that Roth digs better throughout his fiction than a grave.

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In the Double City

Dublin, says Peter Sirr, has never bothered much with Thomas Street; it seems to exist in a state of permanent neglect, many of its fine old buildings on the brink of collapse. Yet it survives, tough, resolute, working class, with a bohemian sprinkle of cafés near the art college like a daub of icing on a crumbling cake.

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Philip Roth: 1933-2018

After Bernard Malamud (d 1986), Joseph Heller (1999), Saul Bellow (2005), John Updike (2009) and JD Salinger (2010), the death of Philip Roth removes from the scene the last of those great postwar American novelists who combined huge literary credibility with a large popular readership.

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Heart and Head

Seventy years ago this week an important congress on the future of Europe was held in The Hague. Some of the fracture lines which then existed still operate today. Britain's role at the event was particularly interesting.

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Slipping the Mortal Coil

Mark O'Connell has won the Wellcome Prize for his book on 'transhumanism', a movement which seeks to harness technology to enable us to jettison our bodies of flesh, blood and bone and upload our brains to eternal life.

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What country, friends, is this?

All the world’s a stage, the words you are hearing may well mean more than they seem to do, and what looks like the battlefield of Agincourt in northern France in 1415 could just as well be Ireland in 1599 ‑ or even 1943.

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Why Marx? Why now?

Marx and Engels were represented on the banners of Soviet-era May Day parades as two imposing greybeards. But Marx, born almost 200 years ago, had a restless and revolutionary mind, schooled by ‘relentless erudition’. A conference in Maynooth next month celebrates his legacy.

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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 ...