A new history of Irish modernism sees its development as following the trajectory of national history, while centralising the achievements of Yeats, Joyce and later Beckett. This is unsurprising as many of the contributors have long been working in the field of Irish studies.
For trolls, politics is insuperably Manichaean. It is governed by enmity and the notion that things could be otherwise is a saccharine fiction that should be derided. In this regard they share something of the worldview of Nazi jurist and political philosopher Carl Schmitt.
Violence begets violence, Darran Anderson reflects. Those immersed in it know it; those who profit from it at a distance know it even more. What his father – that ‘man of few words’ – had given him, he comes to realise, was to have broken the cycle of violence for his own family.
Poets can be parochial, powerful languages encouraging the sense that there is no need to look beyond their borders. Set against that, there is Osip Mandelstam’s ‘nostalgia for world culture’, a kind of alert openness, a feeling of being at home in an enlarged world of the spirit.
Responding to the claim that writers today draw increasingly directly on their own lives, Jonathan Franzen argued that nobody ever wrote a more autobiographical story than Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’: the most purely autobiographical fiction requires pure invention.
Kurt Blome was a minister of Hitler’s Reich, directed its biological warfare programme and oversaw experiments on prisoners. He was not one of the seven Nazi scientists sentenced to death at Nuremberg; instead he was enabled to continue his research for the benefit of US military intelligence.
Louisa May Alcott’s father was a man of advanced views, a deist, vegan and ‘transcendentalist’. But, as is often the case with those of a theoretical and discursive bent, his practical abilities, as well as his appetite for the hard labour his utopian schemes required, were limited.
They lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles, Dorothy Parker is supposed to have said. Bloomsbury continues to fascinate, sexual intrigue and intellectual hauteur being only part of the appeal. An absorbing new study focuses on the interrelated lives of five women.
Our world is organised by boundaries. Those people, those animals, that kind of weather, those diseases belong down there, not up here. But now these boundaries, from which our sense of who we are, individually and collectively, has been drawn, are beginning to look very porous.