If it is true, as many people in Ireland now seem to believe, that First World War combatants were unjustly forgotten, Ireland may not have been the only place where that happened. But perhaps the war was forgotten because people deeply and desperately wanted to forget it.
Many of the challenges put forward to ‘pure’ research in the humanities have been mounted before – by Jeremy Bentham and his followers – in the nineteenth century. They were also quite eloquently answered, by the likes of Arnold, Ruskin, Newman and John Stuart Mill.
A new book seems to favour the consigning of savage episodes in Spain’s twentieth century to oblivion, but there is always a good case to be made for remembering properly, not least that it poses a challenge to remembering badly, or falsifying, to keep conflict and bitterness alive.
The Stoic philosopher Seneca offered useful advice on self-mastery, how to deal with the passage of time and the vanity of acquisitiveness. If he did not always live up to the highest ideals himself, it can at least be said in his defence that he lived in difficult times.
Turkish writers remain vitally engaged with politics as the nation is reshaped and the population divided by the polarising President Erdoğan. Their analyses go deeper than Western interpretations of Erdoğan as simply another Islamist demagogue, and they protest in the hope of reconciliation and the restoration of secularism.
As Ireland set about applying to join the EEC in the 1950s the anti-British discourse on which Irish nationalism relied began to look rather specious, set against the evidence of our overwhelming economic dependence on the UK: this was an asymmetrical relationship like no other in Europe.
George Kennan formulated the key strategy of containment of Russia which guided the West through the Cold War but he became increasingly out of step with the interventionist instincts of successive US presidents. While he was greatly honoured, his desire for a more modest, inward-looking America did not find an echo among policy-makers.
Europe is a conglomeration of different economic models, whose various recessions have been provoked by disparate causes requiring distinct remedies. As in a hospital ward where one patient suffers from a broken leg, another gout and another cancer, a common treatment will fail to cure the majority of patients.