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

Affinity with Far Away

Amanda Bell
A bilingual collection of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s poems contains some new poems and many previously published. The decision to use new versions, suggesting that there is no definitive way of translating a poem, will no doubt give food for thought to students of translation studies.
Feb 4, 2019, 15:03 PM

Disturbing a Mighty Ghost

Bernard O’Donoghue
No figure in Greek myth is more ambiguous than Orpheus, who is both the musician who can charm wild beasts and the uxorious husband who wins his wife, Eurydice, back from the underworld. Theo Dorgan has brought something new and marvellously achieved to this rich nexus of story.
Feb 4, 2019, 14:55 PM

With Proust Down Memory Lane

Dick Edelstein
Ciaran Berry’s ability to move mercurially between simplicity and complexity, between a soufflé-light surface and deeper levels redolent of the rich complexity of a figgy pudding, makes his verse amenable as well as substantial.
Feb 4, 2019, 14:49 PM

Out of his Depth?

Thomas Earls Fitzgerald
Cathal Brugha, a brave soldier but an inept politician, is probably best known for his tense relationship with Collins and his refusal to surrender during the fighting in O’Connell Street in the early stages of the civil war. He preferred to die fighting, charging his opponents head on.
Feb 4, 2019, 14:33 PM

Hating Jonathan Franzen

Kevin Power
Privileged, pretentious, arrogant, self-indulgent, mediocre, male, white. Those who dislike Franzen certainly don’t hold back. Is it the writing, or that he serves as a handy embodiment of a currently popular bogeyman: the smug elitist who disparages mass culture in the name of a snootily exclusive ‘tradition’?
Feb 4, 2019, 14:25 PM

Where Yesterday Haunts Tomorrow

Alena Dvořáková
A lively account based on the fluctuating fortunes of one Russian-Armenian family illuminates the varying impact of large-scale historical developments in specific locations and on people of different ethnicities, religions and cultures. The Soviet Union, it becomes clear, was far from an undifferentiated monolith.
Feb 4, 2019, 14:15 PM

Of Gardens and their Spirit

Brandon C Yen
Apart from the appeal of beauty and the medicinal or alimentary uses of plants, gardens reflect humanity’s attempt to understand its place in the world and to regain an edenic sense of belonging. As such, gardening is a pursuit that crosses national, cultural, ethnic and linguistic boundaries.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:56 PM

From Now to Then

Siobhán Parkinson
A narrative structure which inverts fiction’s usual propulsion from a ‘then’ towards a point of closure that seems to be an inevitable consequence of events resembles our habits of reminiscence, which start with the vivid ‘now’ and look backwards towards a more sketchily remembered past.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:30 PM

Rotters in Brexitland

Giles Newington
Jonathan Coe’s strengths as a writer – his humour, his clarity, and particularly the deft way he can sketch in the political background – make him well-equipped to sustain a state-of-the-nation novel that is credible and wide-ranging yet avoids being dragged down by the weightiness of its theme.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:25 PM

Mistaking Identity

Tom Inglis
We are inclined to think of social identities as traits that are common to all members of a group, that a person cannot help acting like ‘a woman’ or ‘a Frenchman’. But identities are fluid and dynamic. People perform their identities, playing up, or down, their social roles and positions.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:20 PM

Gorgeous and Sinful

Catherine Marshall
Harry Clarke’s work in stained glass can be read in a variety of ways – as modernist, late Victorian, political, even apolitical, but whichever way one argues about interpretations it is hard to question his achievements.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:16 PM

Philosopher in a Hurry

Johnny Lyons
As a popular explainer of what philosophy is concerned with, Bryan Magee had few equals. Never, perhaps, has so much been owed by so many curious minds to a single intellect. But as his frank memoirs show, Magee was not just a man of intellect but one of will and, above all, appetite.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:05 PM

Left in a Free State

Brian M Walker
Northern unionists developed the political and paramilitary muscle in the crisis of 100 years ago to defy nationalism and stay out of a united Ireland. Their Southern brethren were left with the options of accepting the will of the majority and becoming a minority in the new state or leaving.
Feb 4, 2019, 13:01 PM

Down on the Plantation

Seamus Deane
Slavery was not an institution in colonial Ireland. Rather the condition was reclassified as an almost ontological one, that of ‘poverty’. This had a natural alliance with ‘Irish’, just as ‘negro’ had with ‘slave’ in the racial hierarchy that helped assuage class subjection among American whites.
Feb 4, 2019, 12:56 PM

One Damn Thing After Another

John Paul McCarthy
John Burrow’s survey of the history-writing tradition, covering practitioners as diverse as the church father Eusebius and Henry Adams’s American classics, betrays a boyish delight in a fracas. His trademark is the chuckle that implies an acceptance of imperfection. Such, it concedes, is life.
Feb 4, 2019, 12:45 PM

Building Jerusalem

Kris Anderson
David Kynaston, in the first volume of a projected major work, accomplishes his ambition to tell the story of the postwar changes in ordinary people's lives with a prose style that balances entertainment with erudition and in-depth historical assessment with gorgeous, fact-laden word pictures, all fused together in an exemplary narrative of a fascinating period. 
Feb 4, 2019, 12:35 PM