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

Italian Diary V

The order in which we read news of recoveries or deaths in an article can change the tone, and consequently our mood. It is easy to be too upbeat but also to be the opposite. We are walking on very thin ice as Italy attempts to get through this emergency and eventually to exit from it.
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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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Italian Diary IV

Unless we act together the gap between North and South in Europe and between the rich and poor countries risks becoming even wider. The result would be akin to what was inflicted on Greece during the financial crisis, but far, far worse.
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The Prememory of the Pandemic

The world has been taken entirely by surprise by the coronavirus pandemic. It appears as if nothing within living memory could have prepared us for such an unprecedented upheaval. But is that really the case?
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Italian Diary III

The beautiful city of Bergamo in northern Italy was once perhaps best known as the birthplace of opera composer Gaetano Donizetti. Now it is known as the epicentre of the corona virus, with a death registered every half-hour in recent days. Yet even here, there is some hope the tide may soon turn.
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Italian Diary II

Some ask if it is right for the State to shut down its economy because people are dying of a virus. Here in Italy #Covid-19 is killing 8 per cent of those who contract it. What kind of a state or State would we be in if we decided to just attempt business as usual in these circumstances?
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While you’re waiting

If you find you have some time on your hands over the next weeks –or even months – you might take some solace in literary works which deal with crisis and cataclysm, fears of the end of the world or ‘the end of civilisation as we know it’.
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Italian Diary

The number of deaths is increasing daily and although the vast majority of people in Italy are just staying put, working from home as best they can, there are still too many people out and about, going for walks and runs, especially in the cities.
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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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Beyond the Pale

The fraternisation of elements of the traditional right with figures from the new far right raises important questions. Is this just opportunism or is it a serious attempt to move mainstream conservatism further right and win respectability for opinions, attitudes and policies formerly considered beyond the pale?
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George Steiner: Paris, 1929 – Cambridge, 2020

George Steiner, who has died aged 90, was one of the pre-eminent critics and literary intellectuals of the twentieth century. He defended the European canon, which he saw as deriving from traditions which could be traced back to both Jerusalem and Athens, and practised a criticism that was based on admiration.
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THE SEAMUS MALLON I KNEW

He condemned every IRA and loyalist killing in the harshest terms, writes Andy Pollak. He also denounced collusion, harassment and sectarian bias by the RUC and UDR. In the face of government and unionist hostility, he demanded justice and equality from the security services and the courts.
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Death of a Cosmopolitan

Being European, for Ed Vulliamy, was not a matter of some pragmatic economic calculation. It was a thing of passion, of love for the old continent’s languages, customs and beliefs, its football, food and firewater. A European citizen no longer, he experiences the loss as a wrench and a violation.
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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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Out with the Old

Ireland’s population declined from over eight million in 1841 to 4.5 million in 1901, 2.9 million in 1931 and 2.8 million in 1961. It had long been suggested that self-government was the key to tackling decline, but clearly it was not sufficient, the real upward swing coming only after entry into the EEC.
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The Electability Obsession

Those supporting centrist candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination suggest that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are not electable in a contest with Donald Trump. But there is really no evidence that any of the four leading candidates is less electable than any other.
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Looking after Number One

A rereading of a classic two-volume biography of Julius Caesar reveals a vain, grasping and unscrupulous individual, but also a man of vision, talent and unquestionable leadership skills, political to his finger-tips, who would stop at nothing to satisfy his voracious ambitions.
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A Sunburnt Country

In response to Australia’s calamitous forest fires prime minister Scott Morrison and his government blandly reassure Australians they have ‘been there before and come through’, thus enacting the dictum that power is the capacity to talk without listening and the ability to afford not to learn.
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What’s happened to Scottish Labour?

British Labour’s seats in Scotland were always an important part of its majority - when it got a majority. Last week it recorded its lowest percentage vote there since 1910. Why? Because it behaved as if it owned its seats and failed to listen to what its working class voters told it they wanted.
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