National character: English decorum versus dreamy Celtic fecklessness A longstanding element of Seamus Deane’s critique has been his rejection of the idea of national character. His essay on the subject here is a tour de force which charts oppositions between ‘Irishness’ and ‘Englishness’ in a host of commentators over three centuries. Winding his way with fluency and intelligence from descriptions of the ideal English garden to the dreamy Celtic personality, he illustrates how the moral categories imposed on the peoples of these islands have been products of a deeper political intent.
Poems of youth recollected. informed by humour yet speaking of heartbreak
Israel’s ‘first family’ reimagined in a hilariously conceived campus comedy
John Berryman: a university poet in a society not much interested in poetry
Mary Colum’s memoir of Ireland, literary revival and modernism In writing about Yeats and revivalist Dublin, Mary Colum also revisits the most rewarding period of her own life. Her book is itself a distinguished contribution to a small but significant body of autobiographical writing by Irish women writers and activists, which includes Maud Gonne’s ‘A Servant of the Queen’ – the ‘Queen’, incidentally, is Ireland. Colum used autobiography not just as a miscellany of memories but as a mode of moulding the experience of belonging to a specific generation.
FROM PREVIOUS ISSUES
Frank McCourt’s Limerick: a place where the sun never shone
Kevin Myers: a conservative failing to keep down his inner adolescent
Was the Irish Civil War really a struggle between social classes?
Charles Darwin assesses the ‘mental power’ of men and women
Blogs et cetera
Enda O’Doherty writes: The printer Robert Estienne (1460 or 1470-1520), whose shop was on the rue de l’école de Droit in Paris, was a man who believed in taking pains. According to the distinguished scholar of early modern publishing Anthony Grafton, Estienne, who was printer-bookseller to the University of Paris, employed ten “correctors” and is said to have hung up the proofs of editions of his Greek texts outside his shop, offering a reward to anyone who could find an error. Book publishing in the first century of mechanical printing could be a profitable business, but also a tricky one.... Ever since we have been publishing books, newspapers and reviews we have been making mistakes in the printed text. To err is human, universal, inevitable. That doesn’t prevent readers from getting very het up on the subject. But this irritation, and the cantankerousness and mutual antipathy of writers and editors, also have a long pedigree, going back at least to the dawn of printing.