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.

Home Issue 129, January 2021

Issue 129, January 2021

Compelling the Heart to Care

A new Spanish-Irish film documentary manages to profit handsomely from the practical advice of film genius André Bazin, founder of the influential

Who invented Ireland?

A study of the promotion of Ireland through art in the United States provides, thanks to its author’s formidable research, a tapestry of who is who, and where and how they lived and dined, between Dublin, Chicago and New York, with occasional forays to London, Paris, Boston and even New Orleans.

The War on Words

Spoken Chinese is a tonal language quite unlike English – with four possible tones to each sound and a fifth atonal sound that can turn a sentence into a question. The chief problems that translators of ‘Ulysses’ have faced in mainland China are not, however, issues of language but of politics.

The Mirrors That We Drape

If the purpose of satire is to change the world, or at least to change the ways in which we think about it, do poets like Kevin Higgins do more than elicit complacent smiles from those who already agree with them? The strong responses that his poems evoke suggest otherwise.

The C Word

American business has been striking a newly pious note, emphasising its duties towards customers, employees, suppliers, communities. Unsurprisingly, there is nothing about the state, or a corporation’s obligation to pay taxes that can be used for the benefit of citizens.

Royal Rebel

Seosamh Mac Grianna’s best-known work, newly translated as ‘This Road of Mine’, is more novel than autobiography and is also an exploration of the relationship between art and artist. Unusually, for a work written in the 1930s in Irish, it is set in Dublin, London, Liverpool and Cardiff.

Not a Gentleman

The Buddhist monk known as U Dhammaloka was a powerful leader of Burmese nationalism, venerated to the point of adulation by thousands of supporters. In his origins he was a working class Dubliner, who one source said ‘could charm the heart of an old wheelbarrow’.

The Necessary Other

Categorising groups of people as ‘Other’ is a practice that seems to be frowned upon in the best intellectual circles. But there are markers apart from ethnicity, nationality and religion. Why shouldn’t we regard those who strongly oppose our values as fundamentally different?

Velvet Resolution

Hermione Lee’s authorised biography of Tom Stoppard gives us, between the lines, the sense of a man who, while charming, could be driven and sometimes emotionally distant. He also seems to have been remarkably keen to live what he saw as the traditional life of the English gentleman.

The Cat Laughs

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