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

Ernest Blythe and the Irish Language

Ernest Blythe, a south Antrim Protestant, appeared as the only Gaeilgeoir in his parish in the 1911 census. In this heavily Church of Ireland district, even the McCarthys and the Dohertys were Protestant.
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What about us?

In an international survey of outstanding cultural achievement, can the author make judgments about what is excellent and must be included and what can be left out? Or should criteria of proportionality, even-handedness and, above all, inclusivity come into play?
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Running on Empty

Asked why they are leaving, the Venezuelans crossing into Colombia reply that it’s because at home there is nothing – non hay nada. Venezuela’s collapse was not caused, as some have claimed, by the US, yet perhaps it is US backing for the opposition that most stands in the way of resolution.
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Dublin honours classic O’Brien trilogy

In 1960 the Irish state banned Edna O’Brien’s novel ‘The Country Girls’. By that time O’Brien was living in England, where her books did not escape moral scrutiny and attempts at censorship either. Now she is equally honoured in her lands of birth and of adoption.
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Winding Back the Clock, Part I

Hungary proposes tackling population decline by offering tax-free status to mothers who produce four or more children. Is this a practical idea? Or is the thinking that underscores it perhaps just another facet of the conservative social vision of a defiantly confident traditionalist politics?
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Winding Back the Clock, Part II

Right-wing politicians have always liked to tell women where their place is - at home with babies at their feet. Mussolini wanted them to breed soldiers, while his political inheritors today want European women to produce white babies, rendering immigration unnecessary.
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Winding Back the Clock, Part I

Hungary proposes tackling population decline by offering tax-free status to mothers who produce four or more children. Is this a practical idea? Or is the thinking that underscores it perhaps just another facet of the conservative social vision of a defiantly confident traditionalist politics?
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Let’s Hear it for Rousseau

In the wake of the death of a young American missionary, whose good news was apparently unwelcome to the tribesmen of a small island in the Bay of Bengal, might it be time to give up on the monotheistic imperative, a compulsion to root out the false gods of ‘primitive peoples’?
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Appalling Vista

The UK may be currently on the back foot, but there are conceivable circumstances where we might witness a weak Europe being manipulated from the east by Russia and China and from the west by Britain, with enthusiastic cousinly assistance from the US.
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‘O commemorate me where there is water’

Peter Sirr sees ‘literary Dublin’ as having been characterised by the famous remark, the ultimate put-down, the libel trial, products all of a particular kind of competitive maleness. Behind the posters and brochures aimed at the tourists was a male kind of city, hard-drinking and cordially vicious.
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The Tenth Circle of Hell

European Council president Donald Tusk wondered if there should be a special place in the infernal regions for those who promoted Brexit without any idea of how it had to be negotiated. In the long run, the fools seem unlikely to be pardoned.
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If you gotta do it do it right

The newspapers have gone to the dogs completely. No one can spell or punctuate and the young people working there now obviously think grammar is just some kind of weird obsession of elderly fascists out to oppress them. But hold on, is it really as simple as all that?
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The Author of Himself

In his semi-autobiographical fiction James Joyce was not afraid to occasionally portray himself in a less than flattering light. But when the facts of his early life did not please him or suit his fictional purposes he was also very ready to edit them.
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Involuntary Icaruses

Before Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth in 1961 it was deemed advisable to test out the operation with an animal. The dog Laika became famous, but did not survive. An earlier test flight by balloon, in Dublin in the 1780s, also featured an unwilling passenger, a cat who sadly remains anonymous.
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Power to the Imagination

In the context of the controversy over commissioning policy at the Abbey we should be reminded why theatre matters and the degree to which it is a barometer of a nation’s psychic health. Plays, musicals and other performances are manifestations of the imagination in its most live, energising and present form.
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Diana Athill 1917-2019

Diana Athill was a publisher’s editor who worked with some of the most distinguished novelists of the twentieth century. She found a measure of fame at the end of her life through her wonderfully lucid and engaging memoirs, while she also fascinated with her frankness about her personal life.
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How Out is Out?

Britain, it still seems likely, will soon be leaving the EU: the question is how. But what will happen after that? And is there not a form of supporting Europe and its values, for those who want to, that can be open to individuals from the UK, or Turkey, or Belarus, or indeed Russia?
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What Big Hands You've Got

The poet Patrick Kavanagh was a familiar figure in mid-twentieth century Dublin. Along Baggot Street he stepped out like a real countryman come up to town, long strides and hands swinging. Many young women were a bit afraid of him, but he could well have been putting it on a bit.
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Seeking a Safe Haven

Ireland’s Jewish population, which increased dramatically around the turn of the twentieth century, differed from earlier influxes in that it was not focused on occupying land but was predominantly urban. Newspapers here kept the public well-informed about the horrors the Jews were fleeing.
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Mind The Language

Austria became a republic in late 1918, but its democracy collapsed in the 1930s. The director of Vienna's new contemporary history museum, asked what can be learned from the First Republic, says its history teaches us that democracy is a perishable good and can be fatally weakened by a coarsening of public language.
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