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

Rupture Rapture

A hundred years ago this month Yeats published ‘The Second Coming’ in an American magazine. The poem, Joe Cleary argues, did not wait to reflect calmly on rupture and crisis but swallowed them hot. Art does not brood on historical events but aspires itself to be the event.
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Derek Mahon, the poet

Although Mahon was the last poet one would accuse of naivety, he was attracted to an ideal of simplicity, writes Magdalena Kay. This correlates with a tacit conviction that feelings of insignificance can bring on ecstasy: ‘Such tiny houses, such enormous skies!’
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A Long Way Down

Brian Friel, in ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, refers to the sudden disappearance from their Donegal home in the 1930s of two of his aunts, Rose and Agnes. The play is not wholly autobiographical, but the true story of what happened to these women is deeply sad but perhaps not so unusual.
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Likeability

Thirty years after the publication of the ‘Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing’ many critics still dismiss Irish women’s writing as lacking ‘seriousness’ and deride them and their female characters for a supposed lack of ‘likeability’. Could it be that they just don’t like women?
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Apocalypse No

Predictions of apocalypse tend to situate the ultimate hour within the lifetime of the predicter. Unsurprisingly, since the notion is essentially a metaphorical transference of our individual mortality. And in both biblical and secular versions it is profoundly anti-political, distracting us from what we must do.
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Leopold Locked Down

Had he set it in March or April 2020, Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ would probably have been a much shorter novel. Some of the episodes would have been ruled out by confinement measures, while others simply couldn’t be allowed to have happened, being quite politically incorrect.
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Escaping Lockdown with WB Yeats

From his Galway tower, amid the bitterness of civil war, Yeats looked out his window at an empty starling’s nest and imagined that bees might come to settle there. A timely image, for replacing bitter dissension with bee-like co-operation is surely the path to sweetness and light.
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Memories of Eavan Boland

Richard Bourke recalls meetings with Eavan Boland as a young man in the 1980s. Being in her company opened a window on intellectual life, albeit one with a quite narrow view. The culture she esteemed was exclusively literary, with pursuits like history or philosophy relegated to the margins.
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Eavan Boland 1944-2020

As editor and translator she contributed immensely to the cross-currents of poetic and intellectual exchanges between Ireland, the UK and the US. Her poetry encompasses a view and vision, precarious, troubled, yet also calm, which is also found in the numerous poets she celebrated.
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A Timeless Fable

Albert Camus said that Kafka obliges us to read his books twice: once for the literal narrative, and twice for the figurative or allegorical. By that token, writes Ed Vulliamy, his own La Peste cannot be read less than thrice, for it spoke, and still speaks, on three levels: literal, allegorical and universal.
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Recollections in Tranquillity

Today, April 7th, marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the English poet William Wordsworth. He and his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with their book of poems ‘Lyrical Ballads’, were instrumental in launching the Romantic period of English literature.
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Cast a Cold Eye

In 1948, at the request of WB Yeats’s widow, George, and with support from Maud Gonne MacBride, an Irish Navy vessel was dispatched to France to bring the body of the poet back for burial in Co Sligo. And there now it lies - or perhaps it may be the body of the Englishman Alfred Hollis.
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WT*

‘Good authors too who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose,’ was Cole Porter’s observation on falling standards back in 1934. But while they may have written such words in their manuscripts, they still found it hard to get them past their editors.
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An Old Man’s Dreams

Whatever we have done, and perhaps even more so whatever we have failed to do, may pursue us through restless nights for many decades after our conscious minds have forgotten all about it.
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Such Beasts

Fables, Seamus Heaney has written, that corpus of tales of innocent or treacherous beasts and birds, were once part of the common oral culture of Europe, a store of folk wisdom as pervasive and unifying at vernacular level as the doctrines of Christianity were in the higher realms of scholastic culture.
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Don’t mention the Grandfather

A tricky manoeuvre to expand Ireland’s diplomatic effectiveness in international forums involved liaising with a senior international official with important Irish connections. Stephen James Joyce, who died last week, had a reputation for being ‘difficult’, yet in this matter he proved anything but.
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The review as cultural bridge

Frank Kermode argued that the modern literary review offered academic writers the chance to introduce sometimes complex ideas about literature or history or art to a larger audience. All they had to do was to write clearly and not forget that learning can be a pleasure.
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Clive James (1939-2019)

Clive James knew that an unintelligent intelligentsia is a permanent feature of human history. He knew that the hard-to-read would go on being worshipped, and that writers who were merely funny, informed, and scrupulously honest would have to find their way as best they could.
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Regrets, he had a few

Jonathan Miller was famous as a comic actor, satirist, medical man, highbrow television presenter, theatre and opera director, and all-round intellectual. And yet he regretted having failed to concentrate on his medical career, telling many interviewers that he felt he had been a ‘flop’.
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Why do fools fall in love?

The idea that because a person is beautiful, or handsome, she or he must be good is a trap that humans fall into time and time again. This causes a great deal of misery, but also provides material for thousands of popular songs and even some great novels.
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