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

In Himself an Entire People

Seamus Deane

Charles de Gaulle was a traditional Catholic Christian. He rarely spoke of or even mentioned God but rarely failed to speak instead of France, the great stained-glass rose window in which the divine light had glowed through the centuries in radiance or in sombre melancholy.


Something To Declare

Wendy Graham

Gilbert and Sullivan producer Richard D’Oyly Carte offered to sponsor Oscar Wilde’s American tour, hoping to drum up publicity for the comic opera Patience. The representative stock aesthete left London an understudy for the leaders of the aesthetic movement, returning a celebrity in his own right.


Man of Marble

Maurice Earls

From 1820 to 1850, the sculptor John Hogan’s most productive period, he was largely based in Rome. Yet despite living abroad he was without question, and especially in terms of his subject matter and patrons – chiefly the Irish bourgeoisie and Catholic church – an Irish artist.


Reclaiming Democracy

John Fanning

The internet is the most abundantly stocked pantry of grievance in the history of mankind, its users under constant surveillance. What future can there be for democracy if politics becomes a question of detailed statistical analysis and precisely targeted messages rather than ideas?


Gender in Conflict

Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado

Anna Burns’s new novel explores the impact in the Northern Ireland of the 1970s of a level of violence that has become ordinary and a society where gendered violence is everywhere but remains unacknowledged in a context where ‘huge things, physical, noisy things’ happen on a daily or hourly basis.


Justice Withheld

Ian Doherty

Anti-Catholic riots in London in 1780 led to 1,000 deaths. It would be almost another fifty years before equality of citizenship was finally established, the brilliant campaigning of O’Connell and the determination of Wellington finally overcoming the hysterical opposition of the king.


Freedom From the Bind

Megan DeMatteo

Domenico Starnone’s novel ‘Ties’ explores the break-up of a marriage from multiple perspectives, casting some doubt on the notion that self-realisation can easily be found in a new relationship. It is also particularly interesting because of its relationship to the work of Elena Ferrante.


Tales from the Wardrobe

John Mulqueen

If historian Mark Mazower’s father was a quiet man, his reticence was nothing compared to his father’s. Starting from some diaries found in a wardrobe, Mazower has traced an epic and often tragic family history that played out against the turmoil and violence of the early twentieth century.


Midlands Enlightenment

Fergus O’Ferrall

The eighteenth century in Ireland saw the vigorous transfer of literary objects and ideas between Castle Forbes, Edgeworthstown House, and other ‘big houses’ such as Charleville Forest in Co Offaly. Co Longford in particular seems to have been especially rich in literary life at this time.


Death in the Novel

Eamon Maher

With the waning of religious faith and practice in Ireland, the hope of eternal salvation is no longer available to a large portion of the population. A new study of the theme of death in the Irish novel takes us from a world saturated by religious ritual to one which mostly wishes just to forget the past.


Where The Wild Things Live

Patricia Craig

Many books for the young, whether about animals and their habitats or children on a ‘wilderness’ adventure, contain a message which an attentive child may grasp, laying the ground for a future respect for nature, kindness to animals and aversion to environmental destruction.



John Swift

In the long Home Rule crisis of the second decade of the twentieth century, John Redmond, the leader of constitutional nationalism, counted too much on unreliable British allies. His rival, Edward Carson, was a more able tactician, more daring and decisive, and perhaps less unlucky.


No Way Out

Síofra Pierse

Denis Diderot’s novel The Nun, posthumously published in 1796, is an indictment of the practice of locking up young women against their will in convents. It strikes an uncanny echo in Ireland, where the last punishment facility of the type known as the Magdalene laundry closed 200 years later.


Back to Basics

Tom Wall

Much of the gloom about European politics and society is rather overdone, particularly given the recent economic recovery, admittedly still fragile. It is undeniable, however, that social democracy has lost ground. Might its future lie in returning to the vigorous pursuit of equality?


An Idea Madder than Usual

Martin Greene

It is well-known that Joyce drew on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs when writing the sadomasochistic scenes in Ulysses. Masoch’s name today may be chiefly linked to ‘SM’ porn, but there is more to Venus in Furs than that, and indeed more to Masoch than one book.



Paul Walsh

Tyrannies, ancient and modern, depend on myths, myths which cement the leader in power and demolish any arguments against his rule (and it’s almost always a him); they promote and naturalise an identity as fixed as the North Star, bringing all minds into orbit round an idea.


And Who Are Your People?

Mairéad Carew

In the 1930s American academics carried out a range of studies in European countries whose citizens had a tradition of emigration to the US. The measurement of skulls and other tests, it was felt, could determine which peoples were ‘eugenically fit’ and which were rather a bad lot.


In A Hard School

Susan McKay

Emilie Pine’s father had what she has called ‘an unusual approach to parenting’, consisting of neglect of his duties in favour of the pursuit of his first love, alcohol. Pine survived this upbringing and has now written a wonderful, compassionate book about her and her family’s life and travails.


Get Down from There

Alice Lyons

In her native Poland Olga Tokarczuk has the enviable position of being an author of books seriously engaged with ideas, politics and history who enjoys a wide readership, now steadily and deservedly growing internationally.


Lean In And Listen

Anne Tannam

Martina Evans’s new volume consists of two dramatic monologues featuring the voices of two women from the War of Independence and Civil War periods. Though the monolguists never meet their stories are fused through the featuring of a third character, Cumann na mBan member Eileen Murphy.


Dazzled by Words

Jean O’Brien

The intermingling of the religious with everyday life, and an ease with it, is evident throughout Noel Monahan’s latest collection. Religious markers are mentioned casually punctuating the seasons, with the yellow whin bushes blooming at Easter, and following the rhythms of everyday life.


A Profound Poetic Pilgrimage

Pól Ó Muirí

John F Deane is a poet who lives history, who breathes at one with the world around him. He reminds the reader that we live only for a short while on this rock in space but that that time is precious and profound. We are all dear pilgrims – whether we realise it or not.


In Cold Blood

John Fanning

It has been euphemistically categorised as ‘enhanced interrogation’, but Jean Améry, who suffered it at the hands of the Gestapo, called it ‘methodical violence, the equivalent of rape’, adding that ‘whoever has succumbed to torture can no longer feel at home in the world’.


Gazing Heavenwards

Gerard Smyth

The challenge in our secular age for a poet engaging with the spiritual and religious is how to sound the authentic note. To this end James Harpur fetches images from the religious art and symbolism of the past, renewing and refreshing them in his language of ‘pure clear words’.


A Fire in the Brain

Declan O’Driscoll

James Joyce never wanted to believe that his daughter could not be cured of her mental illness, saying ‘whatever spark or gift I possess has been transmitted to Lucia and has kindled a fire in her brain’. The problem was, however, that the fire could not be extinguished.


The Traumatic Quotidian

Paul Murphy

Conor O'Callaghan's new collection often deals with rather mundane events, the primary material of life perhaps, rather than subjects more associated with the epic, but from this he often fashions something original and valuable.


Last Waltz, First Waltz

Enda Wyley

Joseph Woods’s new collection takes the reader on a tour through many exotic places ‑ the Chinese Pacific, the Irrawaddy river, the Western Cape, Chicago – but returns to the more familiar Irish Midlands and West and the persisting links through generations, from ailing parents to infant daughter.


Moongaze More Often

Keith Payne

Matthew Sweeney’s last collection is bright with painters: Lowry, Van Gogh, Goya, for the most part painters of possibility, or Paula Modersohn-Becker, who moved with Rilke and Rodin and whom Rilke once described as ‘half held in thrall, yet already seizing control’.


I Would Prefer Not To

Catherine Kelly

In Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel a young woman attempts to whittle her life back to an extreme stillness. Orphaned, disillusioned with the art world and insulated from the need to work by a large inheritance, she can find no particular reason to participate at all.


Just Wade In

Jean O’Brien

Reading John O’Donnell’s poetic work, the word constant comes to mind: it is the nub of everything he writes. He has an intrinsic core of honesty, humanity and steadiness; we are in safe hands here.


The Mobile Cave

Catalin Partenie

The students may be sitting in the lecture theatre, but they are not thinking about the lecture. No, they are thinking about what messages they may have received on the phones in their pockets. That pull is stronger than anything else. It’s time to talk to the top man.


Mending, after the Fall

Enda Wyley

The idea that even if injured we keep going is at the emotional core of Mark Roper’s new collection – a book of poems which is persistent in laying bare both the pain and happiness of being alive, while always looking to the forces of the natural world for guidance.


Getting to Grey

Liam Hennessy

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.


Astonished at Everything

Peter Sirr

Generosity and largeness of vision seem to meet happily in the poems of Uruguayan-French writer Jules Supervielle, which seem to cover great distances in short spaces.


All or Nothing

Joschka Fischer

Those Germans who argue so vehemently against a so-called transfer union should realise that the EU has always been such a union. France got the CAP for its large rural economy and Germany the common market for its strong industry. Little has changed since.


Birds, beasts and flowers

Gerald Dawe

DH Lawrence’s poetry offers a record of the powerful current of physical pleasure, the elusive joy of witnessing that which is different, and the kind of opinionated prickliness when things are not what they seem to be or should be.


The Stilled World

Nicola Gordon Bowe

Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.


Getting Wasted

A 1997 book, written as the memoir of a ‘Gen X Drunk’, apparently without literary merit and now out of print, might have given members of the US Senate an idea of who might or might not be suitable to sit on the Supreme Court, particularly in its portrayal of the author’s boozy friend ‘Bart O’Kavanaugh’.


The Day All Hell Broke Loose

Fifty years ago today a police attack on a peaceful civil rights march in Derry initiated the latest phase of that long-running Irish phenomenon ‘the Troubles’. Was everything that followed inevitable or might things have developed differently?


A Killer for President

Brazil, the world's fourth largest democracy, faces the prospect of electing a violent and threatening military man as president. He can be stopped, but only if the other parties come together to save the situation.


Candide in the Eternal City

A French novel of the 1950s portrayed a still pagan Rome in which cardinals were addicted to scheming, money could buy sainthood and truth was not as simple to a young priest as it had once seemed. The novel was shocking for the time and was banned in Italy.


Brothers in Religion

Two seventeenth century siblings from north Donegal are said to have become, through an odd set of circumstances, ministers of rival religions, one an Anglican minister the other a Franciscan friar. The story is thought to be the source of the Gaelic lament ‘Fil, fil, aroon’.


A Mission for the Führer

In May 1940, the German spy Hermann Goertz parachuted into Ireland, his mission to induce the IRA to hinder the British war effort by mounting attacks in Northern Ireland. He remained at large for a surprisingly long time, with many protectors, among whom women featured particularly strongly.


Yeats at Ballylee

Rarely read and barely performed, Yeats’s plays are mostly forgotten by theatre companies – despite considerable virtues of portability, adaptability and cheapness. A recent performance at Thoor Ballylee in Galway of ‘The Only Jealousy of Emer’ marvellously shows what can be done.


A pase around old Dublin

John Speed’s 1610 Dublin map is one of the best-known images of the city, a picture of an intimate medieval town which was soon to embark on its modern expansion. Speed himself, writes Peter Sirr, may never have visited Dublin, rather having, as he cheerfully admitted, ‘put my sickle into other mens corne’.


Tuam Excavation

Ninety writers and artists call for a complete excavation and enumeration of the victims of Tuam. Memorialisation is not enough.


Out of the Dark

The McGaherns lived in a poor, rickety house in the middle of a field. All that is left now is a rusty gate in a prickly hedge and an empty, rushy meadow. It is extraordinary to think that out of this remote and unpromising place came a great writer and literature of world renown.


He'll Light the Fire

Graham Nash, transported from the 60s pop band The Hollies and the cold rain of Manchester to the sun of California and a role in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSNY), visits Dublin this week. His songs, well aged in the bottle, are like a shaft of sunlight into dark times.


A Funny Old Game

English and Russian fans may have kicked and punched one another and smashed windows at the Euros in Marseille in 2016, but rival Irish and Belgian fans staged such a funny joint street party in Bordeaux that mayor Alain Juppé called them ‘a disgrace to hooliganism’.


Every third thought will be my grave

Philip Roth once said of fellow writers Saul Bellow and John Updike: ‘[they] hold their flashlights out into the world, [and] reveal the world as it is now. I dig a hole and shine my flashlight into the hole.’ There is no hole that Roth digs better throughout his fiction than a grave.


In the Double City

Dublin, says Peter Sirr, has never bothered much with Thomas Street; it seems to exist in a state of permanent neglect, many of its fine old buildings on the brink of collapse. Yet it survives, tough, resolute, working class, with a bohemian sprinkle of cafés near the art college like a daub of icing on a crumbling cake.


Philip Roth: 1933-2018

After Bernard Malamud (d 1986), Joseph Heller (1999), Saul Bellow (2005), John Updike (2009) and JD Salinger (2010), the death of Philip Roth removes from the scene the last of those great postwar American novelists who combined huge literary credibility with a large popular readership.


Heart and Head

Seventy years ago this week an important congress on the future of Europe was held in The Hague. Some of the fracture lines which then existed still operate today. Britain's role at the event was particularly interesting.


Slipping the Mortal Coil

Mark O'Connell has won the Wellcome Prize for his book on 'transhumanism', a movement which seeks to harness technology to enable us to jettison our bodies of flesh, blood and bone and upload our brains to eternal life.

New Books

Irish Literature

Featuring a full chapter extract from The Abode of Fancy by Sam Coll and a poem from Paula Meehan's new collection, Geomantic.


World Literature

Featuring 2016 Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty's The Sellout.


Irish History & Politics

Featuring Hell at the Gates, in which Brian Cowen, the late Brian Lenihan, Eamon Ryan, Micheál Martin, Mary Harney and many others recount in their own words the inside story behind the government's infamous bailout.


World History & Politics

Featuring Final Solution, David Cesarani's sweeping reappraisal challenging the accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany.


Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Paul Howard's I Read the News Today, Oh Boy, the extraordinary story of the young Irishman who was immortalized for ever in the opening lines of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'.


World Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Loose Canon: The Extraordinary Songs of Clive James and Pete Atkin, an exploration of the lyrics and tunes that have won Clive James and his musical partner, Pete Atkin, a fanatical cult following.


Ireland 1912 - 1922

Featuring Wherever the Firing Line Extends, Ronan McGreevey's study of the places where the Irish made their mark in World War I and are remembered in the monuments, cemeteries and landscapes of France and Flanders.


More New Books ...