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

What’s so good about normal?

During lockdown a range of our habits has been broken, and in some cases resuming them doesn’t seem something to look forward to. For many, contemplation of resuming even the simplest and most harmless of habits spurs the thought: I’m not really sure I want to do that any more.
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Exporting the Poor

Given the level of enforced celibacy in newly independent Ireland, it is not surprising that there were many extramarital pregnancies. Yet the rate was low compared with other European countries. The consequences for the women involved, however, were extreme.
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Avoidance

Liam Kennedy responds to Emmet O’Connor’s review of his ‘Who Was Responsible for the Troubles?’ He restates his argument that as long ago as 1997 it was clear that very many Northern nationalists were prepared to look the other way when it came to killings, bombings and mutilations.
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A joyful sorrow

There is a word – schadenfreude ‑ for delight in another’s misfortune, but is there one for sadness in another’s joy? When Ed Vulliamy complained to American friends about Britain they replied ‘But we’ve got Trump!’ Trump, he responded, will pass – and now, joyously, has passed - but Brexit is forever.
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The Caning of Sumner

In a long-famous outrage in 1856 in the US Capitol, anti-slavery senator Charles Sumner was severely beaten by Congressman Preston Brooks. It is no coincidence that the mob that invaded the building this week carried the Confederate flag. More than anything else it is white supremacy that fuels American violence.
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The Ignoramus ‑ In His Own Words

Almost 58 million Brazilians voted for President Jair Bolsonaro, a man who never hid his nastiness, illiberalism, backwardness and general political ignorance. There are many ways of studying ‘bolsonarismo’, but one of the simplest is just to let him and his cronies speak.
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Letter from Paris

I have met people, including some of my friends and their teenage children, who were proud to say, after the terrorist attacks, that they were definitely ‘not Charlie’. Many indeed felt that the cartoons led to Islamophobia and were an elitist insult to an oppressed and powerless minority.
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A Difficult Healing

Donald Trump’s exit is gratifying. The United States will now have a president who is decent, civil and honest. However, in a political society which has never been more divided and in which citizens have this year bought 17 million guns, uniting the people will not be easy.
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Derek Mahon: 1941-2020

Derek’s was a life characterised by a certain turbulence, dedication to his craft, a disputatious impulse and an inner reserve sometimes bordering on the stand-offish. But when the mood took him he was uproarious company.
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John Hume 1937-2020

Two years ago, Michael Lillis published a review of two books about the former SDLP leader, enriched by his personal experience as an official of the Irish government in working with Hume in the diplomatic process which preceded the Belfast Agreement. We are republishing part of it here.
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Foclóir or Folklore?

Darach Ó Séaghdha’s bestselling book ‘Motherfoclóir’ developed from his successful Twitter project ‘The Irish For’. In the book he has been willing, keen even, to lay into scholarly lexicographers past and present. But the number of mistakes in his own work does not inspire confidence.
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This England

While it cannot be ruled out that Boris Johnson will execute a U-turn at the last minute and throw Gove and Cummings under the bus, hard Brexit talk has taken on a dynamic that will be difficult to stop. If this is the course that is taken, Britain is heading for a harsh collision with reality.
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That’s far enough!

The Dutch were told they could have a ‘sex buddy’ during lockdown but Boris Johnson appears to have ruled that sex can only take place between cohabiting couples. Fear of infection in fact has had a long history of affecting romantic relationships.
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James Dalton – ‘an innocent man’?

IRA intelligence-gathering was highly functional during the War of Independence, but the threshold of guilt and the criteria for punishment could be capricious. Instances of putative informing could be shrouded in spite and the designations ‘spy’ or ‘informer’ sometimes no more than a label of convenience.
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Sunningdale: Trundling On

Was the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 undermined by the fundamental opposition of many unionists to sharing power with nationalists? Or was it the threat that the Council of Ireland might be a slippery slope towards a united Ireland that was decisive?
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Italian Diary X

As Italy enters a new phase of its response to the coronavirus crisis, John McCourt has decided to park his diary and return to his Joyce book. Meanwhile, medics and scientists, the very people who are trying to save our lives, are being increasingly portrayed by a noisy minority as the enemy.
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Truth Above Everything

He was a champion sprinter, a member of the Irish Volunteers and a gun-runner, a supreme court judge, a translator of Immanuel Kant, a playwright and the author of a whimsical novel in which a group of intellectuals discuss philosophy and Irish politics and communicate by radio with Mars.
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Italian Diary IX

What we are all missing at this time is not so much the extraordinary ‑ those occasional escapes from the rhythms and habits of our daily lives ‑ but the ordinary and the everyday. When, for example, will we next sit down with friends in a pub and make a hole in a pint of stout?
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Blighted

The disease which arrived in Ireland in the 1840s did not attack humans, yet it led to the death of one million individuals. It was politics, not natural causes, which brought about this catastrophe. A grim twelve decades of consequence followed.
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Italian Diary VIII

And so on he goes, peddling ‘cures’ like some medieval travelling salesman. Let’s not forget the man who died in March in Arizona after consuming fish tank cleaner because Trump had claimed the chloroquine that was in it could be a ‘game-changer’. It was.
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