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

The Right People

Frank Callanan
It is offensive to regard true democratic values as the exclusive possession of classic liberalism. But perhaps we should all audit the prejudices we derive from our own political tribe and orientation and ask what in them might be inessential ‑ or even plain wrong.
Oct 6, 2020, 19:42 PM

Getting it Straight

Sean Nam
After a crisis of faith in the early 1890s Paul Valéry abandoned poetry for some decades. He didn’t stop writing, however, getting up at dawn each day to work on his notebooks, 250 of them eventually, occupying 27,000 pages. This intellectual exercise he kept up for fifty years.
Oct 6, 2020, 19:39 PM

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

John Fanning
Many huge companies continue to ignore environmental and societal issues and carry on despoiling the planet and exploiting their workers in the name of profit maximisation. But such organisations – let us call them the ‘hairy bacon capitalists’ – are not immune to public opinion.
Oct 6, 2020, 19:31 PM

All Together Now

John Toohey

Making a ‘national’ anthology of stories poses a problem: is there an essence that has to be captured? To be British in the 1920s was to believe that the national story had been progressive, from hut to glass tower, feudalism to universal suffrage, and that the future was a continuum.

Oct 6, 2020, 19:26 PM


Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado
In Elizabeth Bowen’s novel ‘The Last September’, the young heroine is on the cusp of independence, as indeed is, on a separate track, the country she lives in. Bowen masterfully portrays a social caste paralysed by its inability to either identify with the new or let go of the old.
Oct 6, 2020, 19:23 PM

Defending the Union

Henry Patterson
The social democratisation of the Northern Irish state after 1945 transformed the life chances of working class children both Catholic and Protestant, yet the ruling party maintained its ethnic ethos and kowtowed to Protestant ultras on issues like the flag and the Orange Order’s right to march.
Oct 6, 2020, 19:10 PM

Faith and Hope

Barry Houlihan
In Brian Friel’s classic play, the characters’ lives are inextricably intertwined by faith – faith in the healer, faith that they can escape their pasts, faith that they can survive. They are also driven by the blind hope that only true faith provides. But what happens when that faith threatens to break?
Oct 6, 2020, 19:07 PM

Hungarian Connections

Martin Greene
The reasons for the presence of so much Hungarian-related material in ‘Ulysses’ are unknown, but Bloom’s foreign origins clearly facilitate his portrayal as an outsider, while the fact that some of Joyce’s closest associates in Trieste and Zurich had Hungarian family connections may also have been a factor.
Oct 6, 2020, 19:03 PM

Friendly! Dynamic! Various!

Emer Nolan
Saluting progress in Ireland and the contributions of artists to liberalisation is not the same kind of action as analysis or evaluation. Can critics, while retaining the idiom of ‘excellence’, find themselves merely ventriloquising the boosterism of marketing managers and administrators?
Sep 22, 2020, 14:23 PM

Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang

Enda O’Doherty
His indisputable genius ensured that William Shakespeare assumed the status of England’s chief literary emblem, in the same way that Cervantes was chosen to represent Spain, Dante Italy or Molière France. But why was it that he seemed so uninterested in writing about the place?
Sep 3, 2020, 16:07 PM

The Seamus Heaney Experience

Patricia Craig
On a jaunt to Ayrshire, Seamus Heaney came upon the Robert Burns Visitor Experience. When friends joked that there might soon be a Heaney Experience he suggested ‘a few churns and a confession box’. Roy Foster’s impressive new study provides an alternative route into that experience.
Sep 3, 2020, 15:47 PM

My Life and Triumphs

Tom Hennigan
‘I am not so much a writer who has died, as a dead man who has decided to write,’ the narrator tells us at the opening of a Brazilian classic which owes something to Laurence Sterne’s ‘Shandy’, but with the added psychological depth attained in the 19th century French novel.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:33 PM

Our Enemies’ Enemies

John Mulqueen
At the outset of the Cold War, the Vatican and the United States had a project in common, helping senior Nazis escape justice by providing them with new identities and false papers. Their crimes became irrelevant as the West ‘turned on a sixpence’ to confront its new enemy, Russia.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:30 PM

Then Again

Kevin Power
Politics has become a pageant of scandals, with high moral dudgeon the preferred rhetorical mode. In flight from uncertainty, we have abjured the ethical obligation to be uncertain – to pause and say maybe, rather than scream yes or no. Enter Zadie Smith, the essayist of contingency.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:25 PM

The Boys of the Blue Brigade

Michael Lillis
The burning of churches and wholesale murder of priests and nuns during the Spanish Civil War provoked an expedition of Irish volunteers, led by the Blueshirt Eoin O’Duffy. Their intervention was to fizzle out in drunkenness, indiscipline and some not very Catholic behaviour in bars and brothels.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:19 PM

Commodity Citizenship

Tadgh Healy
Citizenship is an arbitrary status that to a large extent determines the material conditions of one’s future. More than class, gender or race, it is the most important factor affecting one’s life chances. Put crudely, some passports come with an array of desirable entitlements; others do not.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:10 PM

The Past, Revisited

Sarah O’Brien
Niamh Campbell’s ‘This Happy’ finds coordinates for today’s slumlords in Ireland’s colonial past. She also edges her readers to the idea that the attempts of the socially dispossessed to transcend class belittlement through the corridors of education might be based on an illusion.
Sep 3, 2020, 14:02 PM

The Queen’s English

Niall Ó Ciosáin
Language shift in Ireland has usually been seen as deriving from integration into the British economy and the resulting pragmatic choices made by peasants. But this is to neglect the role of the state, which conducted its business in English and tended to force its clients to do the same.
Sep 3, 2020, 13:51 PM

Songs from Old Weird America

Jeremy Kearney
After listening to Dylan and the Band’s ‘Basement Tapes’ material, Greil Marcus wrote that this music reflected ‘a community as deep, as electric, as perverse and as conflicted as all America’. In 2017 Conor McPherson triumphantly transplanted these and other Dylan songs to the stage.
Sep 3, 2020, 13:39 PM

Portrait of Fox

Adam Boate
Isaiah Berlin did not share the view that philosophy, and particularly practical philosophy, could be coherently pursued independently of history or, more specifically, of a certain historical self-awareness which springs from a knowledge and appreciation of the past.
Sep 3, 2020, 13:30 PM