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.

FRENCH HISTORY

A Gallic Potpourri

An idiosyncratic history of France from a skilled storyteller
While some of the Revolution’s achievements are acknowledged, Graham Robb highlights the extent of the repression of opponents of the Jacobin minority, who drove it from their base in the capital. The scale of state violence in the Vendée – 100,000 dead in one year – is well-known, but vast numbers were also killed, some by execution, in cities and towns including Nantes, Lyon, Marseille and Toulon. Robb compares this to a war of colonial conquest directed from Paris.

AGEING

Anyone for Tennis?

John Fleming
An engaging and self-deprecating meditation on getting on The book’s title would appear to be at least partly an in-joke. If, like me, you know sweet love-all about central courts and mixed doubles, it helps to know that Roger Federer is a tennis player. Geoff Dyer rather sportily employs Federer’s name as a signifier of something. And he does indeed constitute a trace element within the book – his ‘racketeering’ career on the courts and the notion of him throwing in the towel is one of many supporting structures used. At the same time, all this talk of tennis is just not cricket.

Dublin Review of Books

The Past is a Place

Stories from the North about trying to stay ahead of the past

History or Herstory?

Rosemary Jenkinson
A dazzlingly adventurous fusion of fiction and memoir from Belfast

Death Attracts Us

Stephen Dunne
A compassionate portrayal of the professionals of the dying trade

Mad About Poetry

Peter Sirr
Translating the poem, and the reader into the world of the poem

Homo Oblivious

Victoria Amelina
Words and stories to defend the truth against Russian lies and propaganda

Strength, not Power

Clare O’Dea
Combating oppression and injustice with clarity rather than anger

POETRY

Larkin at 100

Johnny Lyons
The elusive depth that lies behind the all-too-explicit ordinariness

CULTURAL HISTORY

Pass the Parcel

Enda O’Doherty
Ways in which knowledge was disseminated in early modern Europe

NAZI LOOT

Göring’s Man

John Mulqueen
The postwar networks of the Nazi art plunderers and their facilitators

WAR

Russian Myths

Philip Ó Ceallaigh
Vasily Grossman and the narrative of the Great Patriotic War

LITERATURE AS POLITICS

Cold War Culture

Martin Tyrrell
Orwell, Koestler and the democratic left’s crusade against Stalinism

AGEING

Anyone for Tennis?

John Fleming
An engaging and self-deprecating meditation on getting on

FRENCH HISTORY

A Gallic Potpourri

Rory Montgomery
An idiosyncratic history of France from a skilled storyteller

LITERATURE AS POLITICS

Cold War Culture

Orwell, Koestler and the democratic left’s crusade against Stalinism ‘Darkness at Noon’ made Koestler famous and, arguably, he never bettered it. Indeed, success may have gone to his head. David Cesarani says it transformed him ‘into an opinionated and quarrelsome bully’ while Duncan White suggests that the living Koestler proved a weaker Cold War asset than the dead Orwell. Too hostile to communism and to any compromise with that Great Satan, he scarcely qualified as a ‘non-communist leftist’ (NCL). Indeed Hugh Trevor-Roper likened one Congress for Cultural Freedom  event which he addressed to a Nuremberg Rally.

WAR

Russian Myths

Vasily Grossman and the narrative of the Great Patriotic War
From 1944, Grossman was involved in the compilation of ‘The Black Book of Soviet Jewry’, a documentation of the Holocaust on Soviet soil co-ordinated by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. The completed ‘Black Book’ was refused publication in 1948. Stalin did not wish to confound the story of The Great Patriotic War with actual history, and he was concerned that giving the Jews a particular primacy as victims would distract from the simple tale of Russian sacrifice.

NAZI LOOT

Göring’s Man

The postwar networks of the Nazi art plunderers and their facilitators
‘Rehabilitation was the norm for Nazi art plunderers,’ the author writes, ‘just as it was in other sectors.’ Bruno Lohse, who stole art for Reichsmarschall Göring, lived in a modest apartment near the centre of Munich until the end of the 1950s, when he moved with his wife to one of the city’s leafy suburbs. He eschewed grandeur, unlike other old Nazis in Munich, many of whom favoured villas overlooking the nearby Lake Starnberg.

CULTURAL HISTORY

Pass the Parcel

Ways in which knowledge was disseminated in early modern Europe
Erasmus might have supported Reform, but he feared the effects party hatred might have on the Germans and was repelled by the excess of Luther’s temperament, what Huizinga called ‘his formidable boorish mind’. In the 1930s, Stefan Zweig saw Luther through the prism of Hitler and the Nazis – ‘all the life, the vitality, the brutality of the people piled up to create a nature that is over-rich and ever-ready to explode’.

FROM PREVIOUS ISSUES

Mean Street USA

George O’Brien
From the novel of manners to the crime novel of bad manners

The Big D

Seamus O’Mahony
Christopher Hitchens enlists science in the face of death

Tales from Bective

Jana Fischerova
Mary Lavin was not banned, but did she leave things out?

Down the Rabbit Hole

Alex Bramwell
A Russian-Irish writer in the tradition of Bulgakov

BLOG

All for Pemberley?

Jane Austen and the pursuit of an advantageous marriage
On first seeing Fitzwilliam Darcy’s estate in Derbyshire, Elizabeth Bennet is overwhelmed by the beauty of the setting and the informed taste that distinguishes the house and grounds. Having previously turned down Darcy's proposal of marriage, she now muses that ‘to be mistress of Pemberley might be something’. But what exactly would being Mrs Darcy be like? Had all the disadvantages that had seemed to adhere to that state now disappeared?

POETRY

Larkin at 100

The elusive depth that lies behind the all-too-explicit ordinariness
One of the more annoying traits of postmodernism is its callow knowingness. Underneath its chic avowal that knowledge, objectivity and humanity are mere fictions is the genuine fiction that postmodernism itself is somehow exempt from this nihilist analysis. Larkin doesn’t play such games. His sense of ambivalence derives from a grown-up acknowledgment that we don’t or can’t have what we anxiously, unavoidably crave.

Blogs et cetera

BLOG

The Irish Psyche

Maurice Earls
  Maurice Earls writes: It was reported recently in the Financial Times that the British might cut off gas supplies to Ireland this winter. And it’s not even their gas; it comes from Norway. Could you be up to them? Certainly, if Boris’s successor were to flip the Éire switch, it would be a serious matter. Should this danger have been a cause for alarm? Should people have been advised to prepare by dusting down the old paraffin oil heaters in their grannies’ garages? Well, as it happens, the public did not become alarmed, and it turns out they were right to... Sean O’Faolain found the tendency, which he attributed to his fellow nationals, of not worrying too much about the future and failing to consider big picture issues really annoying. In the end, his explanation was that there was a deficiency in the people of a sort which today we would characterise as genetic. For O’Faolain the Irish, among other things, were quite hopeless at strategy, and this defect explained everything that had gone wrong in our history.

BLOG

The Low Pay Trap

Marie Sherlock writes: Looking from the outside in, Ireland is a paradox of plenty. Despite the havoc wreaked by the pandemic, our economy expanded last year by almost 13.5%. Our national income grew just below that figure, and that was still a huge rise of €32.8 bn in just twelve months. Despite the enormous and entirely justified cost of having to subsidise workers and workplaces, the state’s borrowing agency, the NTMA, forecast that they will need to borrow less over the 2021-2025 period than over the previous 2017-2020 period. These are years that include some of the fastest growth...
One in five men are low-paid but almost a quarter of women. Some 24 per cent of women earn less than two-thirds of median earnings per hour. We also know that 32 per cent of lone parents are in low-paid employment, compared to just 16 per cent of two-parent households. There is a significant link between low pay and part-time work.