"The drb sustains a level of commentary on Irish and international matters that no other journal in Ireland and few elsewhere can reach. It deserves all the support that can be given it." X
Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

The Hardest Problem

Martin Greene
Joyce drew on his theories in creating Leopold and Molly Bloom. Freud thought he was ‘highly gifted but sexually deranged’. Wittgenstein thought he was ‘great’, though one couldn’t agree with him, while Strindberg thought he had solved the hardest problem, the problem of women.
Jun 8, 2018, 13:06 PM
More

Solace and Silliness

Keith Payne
As a poet, Iggy McGovern celebrates certainties - the certainty of the slow ticking of a public house clock, ‘a quarter-hour ahead’, the certainty of scientific exploration, of a life clearly recalled, the certainty of the BBC Home Service and of course, the certainty of ageing.
May 5, 2018, 13:19 PM
More

Oral Culture and Popular Autonomy

Brian Earls
William Carleton at times conceived of his great narrative enterprise as a form of naive ethnography, asserting that his stories contained more “facts” about Ireland than any previously published work. His sources were multiple, his sea of story extending from refracted folktales, via Victorian melodrama, to the most commonplace clichés of commercial fiction and, indeed, improving tales. At its heart are the narratives and other oral forms of the pre-famine Irish countryside. 
May 5, 2018, 12:35 PM
More

Folks Like Us

Carlo Gébler
The central characters in Bernard MacLaverty’s ‘Midwinter Break’ are frail, contrary, inadequate, self-serving, self-destructive, hopeless, hopeful, desperate, kindly, thoughtless, and all the other things that make people people. No wonder their story is so fascinating.
May 5, 2018, 12:28 PM
More

Giant Step

Dick Edelstein
While Geraldine Mitchell’s two preceding volumes of poetry were notably cohesive, in her new collection she constructs a more all-embracing context while maintaining an easily identifiable stylistic continuity. The result represents a considerable leap forward in her work.
May 5, 2018, 11:55 AM
More

Politics in the Margins

Anthony Roche
Though he was long perceived as an apolitical writer, Samuel Beckett’s three main publishers, in Paris, London and New York, were known for works with an overt politics and a dedication to civil liberties. This context mattered to Beckett in terms of where his work appeared.
May 4, 2018, 17:01 PM
More

Playing with the Bits

Carlo Gébler
Misery, Paul Muldoon would have us know, wasn’t just back then. We’re still mired in it. His pessimism is bracing but never depressing: this has quite a lot to do with his wit and his lightness, both of which are considerable.
Apr 3, 2018, 21:08 PM
More

Cut and Catch

Gerard Smyth

While Tom French moves much further afield in several of the poems in his new collection, enlarging his range and what might be called his world view, it is to localism and ‘the small things of the day’ that he mostly stays true and which are the fruitful source of so much of his work.


Apr 3, 2018, 20:57 PM
More

Sons and Mothers

Ann Kennedy Smith
Samuel Beckett largely attempted to escape the maternal embrace, insisting that his future would be decided by him rather than her. Philip Larkin’s relationship with his mother seems to have been much warmer, based at least partially on a shared pessimistic attitude to life.
Apr 3, 2018, 14:50 PM
More

Richard Murphy 1927-2018

Benjamin Keatinge
With the death of Richard Murphy on January 30th, 2018, Ireland lost one of its greatest poets, the creator, in the words of fellow practitioner Peter Sirr, of ‘unforgettable music’.
Mar 5, 2018, 13:56 PM
More

An Eye for the Gewgaws

Harry Clifton
Dennis O’Driscoll was his generation’s leading man of letters. He assimilated the mode and manner of translated Eastern European poetry and applied it to the domestic and professional realities of Ireland. In his finest poems, the decadence and morbidity of the age is lifted beyond itself.
Mar 5, 2018, 13:45 PM
More

Homing Signals

Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado
Leontia Flynn’s latest collection, which was shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize, gives shape to the ‘music of words’ that reverberates within our quotidian existence, channelling it internally and then broadcasting it back to the outside world in unexpected forms.
Feb 3, 2018, 14:05 PM
More

Silvery Images

Alexander Runchman
Nerys Williams’s new collection is much concerned with language, and while it disparages ‘silver tongues’ it recognises that the value of language and its ‘half-lit words’ may lie in the uncertainty of its interpretation, in its meaning different things to different audiences.
Feb 3, 2018, 13:26 PM
More

Toxins

Mary O’Donnell
Although Annemarie Ní Churreáin’s poems often centre on ‘subjects’ and ‘issues’, the strength of her work derives from a perceived absence of agenda. There may well be an agenda, but thanks to poetic language true to its task, we believe in these poems as poetry.
Jan 8, 2018, 17:33 PM
More

Poetry, Exile, Homecoming

Keith Payne
After much wandering, there is a sense of homecoming in Michael O’Loughlin’s later poems, but more the poet coming home to himself than any facile notion of nationhood. This is a collection which places O’Loughlin deservedly within the canon of Irish poetry.
Jan 8, 2018, 17:18 PM
More

A Great Delight, A Little Load

Carlo Gébler
Peter Fallon’s version of the Greek poet Hesiod’s best-known work avoids the traps of exaggerated fidelity to ancient poetic protocol and wilful anachronism. There is also modesty in his practice: this is about Hesiod, and admiration of what Fallon can do is not allowed to get in the way.
Jan 8, 2018, 17:04 PM
More

Not All There

Dan A O’Brien
Sean O’Reilly’s truncated, misshapen stories are a radical leave-taking from the Irish literary tradition ‑ more Flannery than Frank O’Connor ‑ while in other ways they could not be anything other than Irish, sharing much with the stranger work of Donal Ryan and Rob Doyle.
Jan 8, 2018, 16:50 PM
More

Judging Fintan Judging Shaw

Anthony Roche
Most Shavians steer clear of discussing Shaw’s final decades. It is then that he starts cuddling up to dictators, of whom there was no shortage at the time. Beatrice Webb blamed his admiration for Mussolini on 'his intellectual isolation and weakness for flattery'.
Jan 8, 2018, 16:12 PM
More

Wordplay

Declan O’Driscoll
It’s not easy being in a Joanna Walsh story. Nothing is quite as it should be and however fervently you maintain hope, that vision you have of how life might approach perfection ‑ the image imagined ‑ never settles or sharpens into focus.
Nov 30, 2017, 20:38 PM
More

Love Persists, Despite

Nessa O’Mahony
Two new collections deal with the many challenges that life throws at us, from illness and ageing to bereavement, fragility and, eventually, death. And in spite of all this, the poet is compelled, as Kavanagh wrote, to ‘record love’s mystery without claptrap’.
Nov 30, 2017, 20:31 PM
More

Categories