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

The caricature or the man?

Marilyn Piety
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s reputation suffered after attacks on him in a contemporary satirical journal, and his response to those attacks. But were the attacks fair or accurate in the first instance? And have we now been left with the caricature rather than the man?
Jan 2, 2020, 17:33 PM

An Englishman’s Arthur

Thomas Earls FitzGerald
The writer of Arthurian fantasy TH White sat out the Second World War as a conscientious objector in Co Meath. This long sojourn doesn’t appear to have given him any great love of the Irish people, whom he seems to have blamed for spurning the benefits of British civilisation.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:14 PM

Digging Deep

Amanda Bell
Robert Macfarlane’s latest exploration of the natural world leaves one with the impression of the world as a hollowed-out vessel, infinitely fragile and perilously finite, a honeycomb packed with toxic waste which will ultimately disintegrate like an aged wasps’ nest.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:10 PM

On Quijotismo

Leanne Ogasawara
Cervantes’s ‘Don Quixote’ was about a man who steps out of the matrix. Tilting at windmills, on a quest for a princess, he appears crazy ‑ and he forces us to consider that maybe we are crazy. This is why over four centuries he has remained an indispensable hero.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:01 PM

Rí-rá agus rumpy-pumpy

Philip O’Leary
Free of Victorian respectability, Gaeltacht Irish did not develop separate registers of acceptable and ‘dirty’ words. The fact that Mairtín Ó Cadhain wrote about sex scandalised those for whom the Gaeltacht was more holy ground than a place where people actually lived.
Jan 2, 2020, 16:48 PM

Mina’s Lair

Neil Hegarty
Bram Stoker is standing at his window, peering out anxiously at a figure below. The young Oscar Wilde wishes to whisk him away on a healthy, liberating seaside constitutional – but Stoker will have none of it: it wouldn’t do to be seen in the company of such a one, not in gossiping Dublin.
Jan 2, 2020, 16:13 PM

A Fog from Reykjavik

John Fleming
A participant-observer study of the making of The Fall’s 1982 album ‘Hex Enduction Hour’, recorded in Iceland and at a cinema in Hertfordshire, drips decency and likability. It could be profitably patented as a pragmatic template for art memoirs or biographies.
Jan 2, 2020, 16:08 PM

Questions of Balance

Peter Robinson
It is the balancing act of drawing transitory subjects from the experiences of a life, presenting them with a deftness and lightness of touch that still delivers a weight of implication, while shunning overt claims to attention, that is so captivating and enabling in Enda Wyley’s new collection.
Jan 2, 2020, 16:02 PM

Waltzes and Quicksteps

Éamon Mag Uidhir
Gerald Dawe has managed throughout his writing life to evade contamination with the sectarian and ideological toxins that pervade his native Northern ground. In his person and in his work he is the consummate united Irishman, equally at home in Galway, Dublin and Belfast.
Jan 2, 2020, 15:50 PM

Through the Tarmac

David O’Connor
In Deborah Levy’s new novel we are left with a sense of boundless complexity, the intertwining of present, future and past, of memory, dream and wish, hurt and desire, presence and absence, love and hate, and everything that slides between such simplifying distinctions.
Jan 2, 2020, 15:44 PM

Fearing the Forest

Miriam Balanescu
Max Porter’s follow up to ‘Grief is the Thing with Feathers’ explores the physicality of language, earthiness, the smell of ink and metal in print. The layout of the text is highly experimental: words drip, curl and crawl off the page, reminding us of their tangibility.
Jan 2, 2020, 15:38 PM

Smile, and turn up the power

Martin Tyrrell
In a Yale experiment in the 1960s, social psychologist Stanley Milgram found that large numbers of ordinary, inoffensive people were prepared to administer painful electric shocks to another person, similarly ordinary and inoffensive, sometimes even when a fatality seemed possible.
Dec 5, 2019, 18:05 PM

Macavity was there

Matthew Parkinson Bennett
Founded in 1929, Faber & Faber had the benefit of the best connections and an astute director who also happened to be one of Britain’s greatest poets. Still, it might not have survived all those years as an independent publisher had it not been for a certain collection of children’s verse.
Dec 5, 2019, 18:01 PM

A troll avant la lettre

Luke Warde
‘You can’t say a thing these days’ is the predictable chorus of the reactionary in the face of ‘political correctness gone mad’. In reality they say all they want to say: as the French antisemitic writer Céline put it, ‘once you’re recognised to be a clown you can say anything’.
Dec 5, 2019, 17:54 PM

Tarantulas and Dynamite

Sean Sheehan
Nietzsche’s reputation was tarnished for a long time by his posthumous adoption by Hitler. In fact the philosopher was repelled by antisemitism. It is now clear that his writings were curated after his death by his sister Elisabeth to make them Nazi-friendly.
Dec 5, 2019, 17:48 PM

Morbid symptoms

John Wilson Foster
The Western literary canon is only one casualty in North American departments of English, superseded by courses designed to redress the sins of white male patriarchs and colonialists. The curriculum spirals outwardly, growing ever more specialised by cultural minority.
Dec 5, 2019, 17:40 PM

Martha or Mary?

Caitriona Clear
Should religious women stay in their own ‘female’ spheres, or compete on an equal level with men in worlds constructed by and for men? Some Protestant American women have chosen to follow the religious life quietly while others embrace showbusiness and razzmatazz.
Dec 5, 2019, 17:36 PM

For the dark times ahead

Andreas Hess
In the early 1930s Bertolt Brecht fled Germany for Prague, then spent some time in Paris before escaping to Denmark, Sweden and eventually Finland, before finally travelling via the Soviet Union to the United States. His experience as a mid-twentieth century refugee is far from irrelevant today.
Dec 5, 2019, 17:31 PM

The Greatest of These

George O’Brien
Colbert Kearney comes from a strong republican tradition: his IRB grandfather wrote the words of the national anthem. The grandson’s memoir, however, is less concerned with ‘the people’ than with persons, in particular his father, whose love for his family is here celebrated, and repaid.
Dec 5, 2019, 17:27 PM

A Champion for the Poor

Fergus O’Donoghue
Father John Spratt, a Dublin-born Carmelite priest whose energy seems to have been limitless, not only built Whitefriar Street church but established an orphanage, two schools, and a night refuge for children and dismissed servants. He also campaigned vigorously for temperance.
Dec 5, 2019, 17:24 PM