I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

POLITICS

According to John

Pluralist Ireland and the angry politics of John Waters
At the rally in Balbriggan John Waters spoke in front of a tricolour and a poster of the 1916 proclamation. The demise of Ireland, he said, was already assured by the 1970s, when we joined the EU. He warned of falling birth rates, made worse by abortion. Many of the immigrant communities, he said, had birth rates two or three times the Irish one. The great replacement was on the way. He criticised Fianna Fáil’s election slogan ‘An Ireland for all’. Who were they referring to? ISIS? ‘There are two words missing. Except Paddy.’

Music

You Should Be Glad

With the Beatles: a sparkling account of an innocent mania Not everyone liked the Beatles, even in their heyday. Forced together for a 1964 photo shoot with Muhammad Ali - then Cassius Clay - the atmosphere was anything but relaxed, with the boxer referring to them as ‘little sissies’ and them hitting back with ‘stupid wanker’. The Beatles were awestruck by Elvis but he, according to an official memo, later told the FBI he believed the group ‘laid the groundwork for many of the problems we are having with young people by their filthy unkempt appearances and suggestive music’.

Dublin Review of Books

At Bates Motel

Susan McKeever
Grief, addiction, abuse, self-harm, motherhood, breakdown, hilarity

Gimme Shelter

Sean Byrne
The schemes and stratagems that help the rich stay rich

Hard Power

Sean Sheehan
Thucydides and the pursuit of domination through warfare

Walking the Wild Side

Patrick Duffy
Wintering out in Mayo’s lonely glens and boglands

Witness to War

Katrina Goldstone
Peadar O’Donnell walks into Franco’s military revolt

Parents and Newcomers

Justin Quinn
Poetry and place: the case for transnationalism and translocalism

The Fascist Precursor

Aidan O’Malley
Fiume and the ‘poetic dictatorship’ of Gabriele d’Annunzio

The Light Fantastick

Brian Cosgrove
Dickens: master of imagination and verbal fancy footwork

A Grand Passion

Afric McGlinchey
Nora Barnacle’s life with ‘an envious, proud, lonely, discontented man’

Join the Queue

Aiden O’Reilly
A fictional exploration of ideas pushed to their logical conclusion

Peeling the Onion

Andreas Hess
Let us look at Trump – so we don’t have to have him again.

POLITICS

According to John

Bryan Fanning
Pluralist Ireland and the angry politics of John Waters

Music

You Should Be Glad

Maura O’Kiely
With the Beatles: a sparkling account of an innocent mania

SOCIETY

History on the Wing

John Horgan
Irish Catholics under the skin: a master class in journalism

MEMOIR

Once Upon A Time

Patricia Craig
Marina Warner’s reimagining of a near magical transformation

CULTURE

Hail Ruritania!

Jim Smyth
A kingdom’s progress: from Duck Soup to Princess Diana

INTERVIEW

The Flowering

The 1950s: a good time to be born for a girl who must write

Art

Sacred Monster

Rosita Sweetman
Not for the drawing room: the terrifying art of Francis Bacon

SOCIETY

History on the Wing

John Horgan
Irish Catholics under the skin: a master class in journalism What busy, overstretched, understaffed media organisation today has the resources to extend its investigative focus beyond the primarily middle class issues that interest its readers when editors are demanding copy and directors are demanding profits? The opportunities for what has been described as ‘shoe-leather journalism’, both in Ireland and elsewhere, are visibly shrinking, and this is why it is so gratifying to see them re-emerging ‑ being reinvented almost ‑ in a book which costs little more than a week’s supply of a newspaper and which is a master class in the trade.

MEMOIR

Once Upon A Time

Marina Warner’s reimagining of a near magical transformation
Marina Warner is a specialist in fairy tales, and it is hard not to read a fairy-tale element into the journey of her intrepid young Italian mother to a far-off country where she faced the daunting rituals of English country life. There is also, as in the traditional tale, a transformation to be enacted, as Italian Ilia becomes an impeccable English lady wearing calf-skin gloves and bespoke brogues – ‘sturdier by far than a glass slipper’.

CULTURE

Hail Ruritania!

A kingdom’s progress: from Duck Soup to Princess Diana
The antediluvian heraldic outfits of the Garter Principal King of Arms and other royal flunkies, which appear patently ridiculous to some, to others signify imperishable ‘tradition’. If, in the run-up to the 2016 referendum, a discerning bookie had cast his mind back to 1997, the death of ‘the people’s princess’ and the scenes of England’s nervous breakdown on the Mall, he would have shortened his odds on a leave vote.

INTERVIEW

The Flowering

The 1950s: a good time to be born for a girl who must write
If you were a young Irish girl with literary ambitions, then the mid-1950s was quite a good time to be born. First there was free education, which enabled even people from quite humble backgrounds to go on to university. Then came feminism, with its impact on Irish society, arts and literature, followed by new laws on gender equality and, most importantly, provision for legal contraception.

FROM PREVIOUS ISSUES

The Devil’s Disciple

Maura O’Kiely
As a person, Patricia Highsmith was simply vile: mean, cruel and hard.

Essay

No Myth No Nation

Maurice Earls
A state will be at a loss if it doesn’t know where it came from.

Essay

Two Legs Bad

Martin Tyrrell
A socialist society may be beyond us: morally we’re not up to it.

Essay

The Cat Laughs

Kevin Power
Are we, like our feline companions, creatures of biology and chance?

Art

Sacred Monster

Not for the drawing room: the terrifying art of Francis Bacon
Old age, as Katherine Hepburn once said, is not for sissies. Bacon did his best. Ill with asthma, high blood pressure, a cancerous kidney, a dodgy liver and a heart kept going with champagne and fistfuls of pills, including amphetamines, he was ‘living on time wrenched from the teeth and claws of death’. ‘The nearer I get to death,’ he said, ‘the stronger the urge to paint.’

Blogs et cetera

BLOG

A Classical Education II

Enda O’Doherty writes: Many of us may be aware of the rather disparaging remark Shakespeare’s friend and rival Ben Jonson – a highly educated scholar himself ‑ made on the extent of the Bard’s classical knowledge: “And though thou hadst small Latine, and less Greeke …” This was often interpreted to mean that Shakespeare had a scant or scrappy education (Latin having been the indispensable foundation of schooling in the Elizabethan age) and it was probably grist to the mill of those misguided folk who thought the plays could not possibly have been written by a person from such... One episode from Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ which has appealed over the centuries to many painters and poets, and which may have a certain topicality, features the tale of Daedalus and Icarus. You probably know the story. Daedalus, a skilled artificer, having done what he came to Crete to do - build a labyrinth - wants to leave. Crete is a lovely island they say, with great scenery and friendly people, but really he would prefer to be somewhere else. But how can he get away, with the strict ban on inessential travel King Minos’s government has imposed?

BLOG

The Reawakening

Slowly but surely – and barring sudden reverses in the progress we have made – Ireland will be returning to social and cultural life this month and next. From May 10th you can visit a bookshop and pick up a book you have previously ordered online (click and collect). From the following week you can actually visit the shop, browse and buy. The cultural institutions, or most of them, are also opening next week. The National Museum’s branches at Collins Barracks (decorative arts and history) and Kildare Street (archaeology) in Dublin and the Castlebar museum of country life will be...
After months of virtual cultural starvation, bookshops, galleries and cultural institutes are due to open up again in the next days and weeks. It’s time to get out there and refill the tank. But do think of others, use your mask and keep your distance.