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

A Leap Into Darkness

Matt Bucher
Literary quality, Robert Bolaño said, was not just about writing well, because anybody can do that, or even writing marvellously well: anybody can do that too. It was about knowing how to thrust your head into the darkness and understanding that literature is a dangerous calling.
Jul 12, 2015, 07:08 AM

Strangely (un)Christian

Emily Holman
The central characters in Michael Faber’s new novel seem to be made of Christian ingredients, yet to speak and think in ways incompatible with who they profess to be. And though the novel improves, this tonal blip tends to make for an erratic reading experience.
Jun 8, 2015, 10:27 AM

An Unknown Kingdom

Joe Woods
The Burmese poet Ko Ko Thett, now living in Belgium, has garnered high praise for his work, particularly from the high priest of American experimentalist poetry John Ashberry, who has characterised his verse as ‘brilliantly off-kilter’.
Jun 7, 2015, 20:13 PM

The Romantic Englishman

Enda O’Doherty
George Orwell is celebrated as the man who made political writing an art. But if he was a brilliantly gifted, and often funny, polemical writer, politically he was frequently off the mark, right about one big thing but hopelessly wrong about many small ones.
Jun 7, 2015, 10:01 AM

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

Pauline Hall
The first of a series of essays on fictions inspired by the 1916 Easter Rising looks at a work by Raymond Queneau, a French disciple of Joyce whose total experience of Ireland, he has admitted was a short stopover at Shannon Airport on the way to the United States.
May 10, 2015, 10:56 AM

World Without End

Lia Mills
Marilynne Robinson’s three Gilead novels amount to a masterclass in perspective and in the use of telling detail to construct character and story. Part of their extraordinary power is their ability to return to the same events with a fresh point of view, without ever feeling repetitive.
May 9, 2015, 17:48 PM

I am an automobile

Calista McRae
A new study argues that John Berryman’s poetry is far more than id, psychosis, and despair, bringing out Berryman’s intelligence and his careful thinking about the modern world, which has often been ignored in favour of accounts that portray a wild, whisky-inspired genius
May 9, 2015, 16:32 PM

Laughing Matters

James Moran
The outstanding English comic novelist of his generation, David Lodge has managed to extract humour in book after book from two main subjects: the competitiveness and egoism of academic life and the follies of the Catholic Church’s attempts to instruct its flock on how to conduct their sex lives.
May 9, 2015, 15:49 PM

The Persuaders

John Fanning
There seems to be a dearth of evidence that political ad campaigns actually work. Nevertheless, politicians are always open to the advice of advertising professionals on how to simplify their message and get it across to the public in a way they will find palatable.
Apr 6, 2015, 22:55 PM

Not all Beef and Ale

John McCourt
Anthony Trollope has the reputation of being a conventional and comfortable writer, valued by various Tory prime ministers as a purveyor of enjoyable light political intrigue but in his Irish novels he emerges as a somewhat more complex and double-sided figure.
Apr 6, 2015, 18:41 PM

Wrong Train, Right Station

Sean Sheehan
William Blake placed Dante alongside the prophets of the Old Testament, Homer and Shakespeare as an embodiment of poetic genius and he worked studiously on a series of drawings illustrating episodes from the Divine Comedy in the last years of life.
Apr 6, 2015, 18:26 PM

Invitation to the Dance

Kevin Stevens
Over twenty-four years, starting in 1951, Anthony Powell wrote a remarkable series of a dozen novels exploring English upper class and bohemian life from soon after the First World War to the 1970s through the themes of war, love, art, class, family, politics and death.
Apr 6, 2015, 18:14 PM

The Green Fuse

Billy Mills
Dylan Thomas read and learned from Auden, as they both read and learned from Eliot. However, where Auden saw the neo-Augustan classicist in the older poet, Thomas could see ‘the skull beneath the skin’ and shared Eliot’s fascination with the irrational and grotesque.
Mar 8, 2015, 17:17 PM

Pay Attention

Lia Mills
Ali Smith has written a daring and brilliantly successful novel about art and language, the making and understanding of art, and of life. It’s about attention and engagement and how to stay awake in the world and in life, which will be over sooner than we think.
Mar 8, 2015, 15:31 PM

Radio Ga Ga

Seán Fox
The critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin’s broadcasts for children blur the lines between seriousness and playfulness. For Benjamin, canonically complex and highbrow thinking can and should be regarded in certain instances as child’s play.
Mar 8, 2015, 15:20 PM

The Astonishment of Insight

Gerard Smyth
A major new anthology of war poetry covers a range of conflicts including the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the Vietnam War and Ireland’s ‘Troubles’, in both their twentieth century phases.
Mar 8, 2015, 11:30 AM

The Doubter

Antony Tatlow
Previous biographies have called almost everything about Bertolt Brecht, including his authorship of the works attributed to him, into doubt, while political changes have seemed to diminish his importance. But a new life, revealing a new Brecht, reasserts his importance.
Feb 3, 2015, 11:03 AM

The Uses of Art

John Fanning
Alain de Botton has been the recipient of much sniffy condescension, being characterised as a chiropractor of the soul. But this is somewhat unfair: he is not trying to make us happy but to help us to understand ourselves better, and he sees art and philosophy as allies in this pursuit.
Jan 4, 2015, 12:46 PM

Mister Perfect

Michael Hinds
The frequently quoted descriptions of Michael Donaghy as a modern metaphysical may make prospective readers nervous; yet in the main there is nothing ostentatiously intellectual about his work. Rather, the abiding impression is that a poem is a minor fuss worth making.
Dec 1, 2014, 20:18 PM

Less Thought, More Action

Antony Tatlow
The German theatre company Schaubühne has toured its surtitled version of Hamlet in a translation which would more be accurately described as a transformation. The interpretation may be daring but the interweaving of meaning and “music” which makes Shakespeare’s language so memorable is lost.
Dec 1, 2014, 19:32 PM