"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 

Saving the Mind from Big Tech

Stephen Phillips
There was a time when it seemed that people didn’t mind what they shoved in their mouths as long as it was cheap. Then came ‘artisan food’, for which a minority would pay a premium. Might a willingness to pay for ‘artisan’ thought and analysis yet save what we used to call the quality press?
Nov 30, 2017, 19:08 PM

The Book’s The Thing

Toby Barnard
A new study of reading in the eighteenth century returns books to the settings in which they were enjoyed, stressing how they were valued as aids to refinement and self-improvement and how frequently they were encountered through being read aloud for the benefit of a group.
Nov 5, 2017, 15:19 PM

Picking Up The Pieces

Joe Breen
Bruce Springsteen’s memoir pulses with intensity and insight born of hours on the psychiatrist’s couch, covering his blue-collar Catholic background, the gruelling tour schedules and recording sessions, the initial paltry returns, then the king’s ransom when luck and labour chime.
Oct 5, 2017, 17:34 PM

A Study of Scarlet

Catherine Marshall
Michel Pastoureau’s account of the history of the colour red is in many respects fascinating. But what worked well for his previous studies of black, blue and green comes up a little short for red, a colour which is oceanic and in whose multiplicity of meanings one might well drown.
Oct 5, 2017, 17:08 PM

Time After Time

Tom Cleary
It has been estimated that the population of Ireland may reach 10 million by 2050; a sizeable proportion of that number will not be ‘native Irish’. Hungary, resistant to immigration, now has 10 million inhabitants, the same as eighty years ago, and this will very probably fall.
Sep 3, 2017, 10:31 AM

Understanding the Alt-Right

Oisín O’Neill Fagan
Online culture is a strangely proportioned new world, and it needs a map. Into this space comes Angela Nagle’s persuasive essay ‘Kill All Normies’, which charts the frenetic online culture wars of the last decade, marking and delineating their evolving political mutations.
Jul 10, 2017, 16:24 PM

Tales of Wonder

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
What we call fairytales rarely feature fairies, but they recount, in a rich code of metaphors and symbols, the journey of human beings from childhood to adulthood. They are simple and profound, in structure elementary and unfussy, in ideas basic and universal, in style beautiful and attractive.
Jun 9, 2017, 14:45 PM

Before Babel

Paul O’Mahoney
Nineteenth century linguistic scholarship led to the identification of a language family designated as ‘Indo-European’. The demonstration that ancient Western languages such as Latin or Greek were related to similar Eastern languages permitted the hypothesis of a common mother language.
Jun 8, 2017, 19:57 PM

Race & Cash & Rock & Roll

George O’Brien
The record label owner can be seen as the freebooter who turned up treasure in the buried American lives crying out in the hollers of the fields or the hymns of the hollows. Did well out of it too, knowing the ways of copyright and related business niceties. Well, it’s a free country, or so they say.
Apr 5, 2017, 12:31 PM

The Swiss Laid Bare

Fergal Lenehan
An impressive study by an Irish-born journalist who is a long-time resident in the confederation moves beyond lazy cliche and prejudice, driven by a desire to get the facts about the country straight, and for those facts to be fair and accurate.
Apr 5, 2017, 11:52 AM

They’re Selling Postcards of the Stoning

Jeremy Kearney
When Bob Dylan blasted out his electric version of “Maggie’s Farm” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, he was, for many, committing sacrilege. Pete Seeger, who at the time epitomised American folk music tradition, was said to have called for an axe to cut the cables.
Mar 8, 2017, 13:40 PM

The Myths of Brexit

James Harpur
The political battle in Britain was fought at a mythic level, and the image of the golden age, with its appeal to the restoration of national identity, triumphed. But only just. The Remainers foolishly failed to paint their vision in mythic oils, preferring the pointillism of practical details.
Feb 9, 2017, 09:58 AM

Philosophy on the Boulevard

Manus Charleton
The bloom of Existentialism may have faded today - though its presence is still felt in literary work - but fifty years ago every fashionable person wanted to learn about it, the Establishment fretted about it, and almost every journalist seemed to be using it to make a living.
Jan 5, 2017, 19:20 PM

That’s It, Folks

John Fanning
The last book from the late German sociologist Ulrich Beck offers a grim prognosis for our future as a society, with traditional political institutions helpless before the power of capital and the reactions of right and left devoid of intellectual content, functioning only to let off steam.
Dec 7, 2016, 15:00 PM

It Looks Like You’re Writing a Novel

Tim Groenland
Home computing and word processing are now so taken for granted that it’s hard to recreate how big a deal their first appearance was. One writer compared the cost of his device to his daughter’s school fees. Another had to have the machine lifted into his house by a crane.
Dec 7, 2016, 11:51 AM

Cranking it Out

Mark Fitzgerald
The musician John Beckett, cousin of the writer, comes across as a difficult character – some thought a crank. Stories abound of his rudeness, especially with drink taken. His musical tastes too were extreme: Handel was too commercial, Beethoven merely ‘souped-up Haydn’.
Oct 4, 2016, 18:15 PM

The End

Bridget English
We may well, at bottom, be just ‘frail and vulnerable animals’, but we are more complex than other animals in our approaches to death. We must accept our physical mortality, but as humans we cannot rid ourselves of the desire for consolation or meaning.
Jul 13, 2016, 08:59 AM

No Sweat

Michael Hinds
James Joyce and Walter Benjamin worked hard over decades to evolve idiosyncratic methods apt for the city-text they wanted to communicate. But Kenneth Goldsmith’s montage version of New York comes from a culture that no longer attaches value to work, only to product.
Jun 9, 2016, 20:13 PM

Press Button B

A raft of books from the US suggests that as a society we have made a Faustian pact with the tech giants and there is now no getting out of it. But have we really lost all freedom of action? Could we not, individually, just turn off our phones for a few hours and go to the library?
Jun 9, 2016, 18:34 PM

Your language or mine?

Michael Cronin
A language, it has been said, is a dialect with an army, or at the least one with a regional assembly. A new study, which seeks to identify patterns of ecological constraints operating on the circulation of literary texts, suggests that a “language is a dialect with a literature”.
Jun 9, 2016, 17:29 PM