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 61, November 2014

Issue 61, November 2014

Back to the Well

The ‘ressourcement’ movement helped create the intellectual climate for the Second Vatican Council through its critique of a theology which had as its dominant concern not so much seeking an understanding of faith and mystery, as responding to and opposing heresies.

The Gaelic Hit Factory

In what might be called the cartoon version of our modern history, the Irish language is corralled in with land and religion as a shibboleth of the anti-modern. This is to ignore elements of the language movement which were innovative, dynamic and successful.

A Serious Business

Edward St Aubyn has undoubted comic gifts, as he has proven in his previous work, but his satire on the Booker Prize judging process tacks a little too closely to burlesque. Perhaps he was having so much fun he ‘let himself go’. But satire, when it is successful, is a serious business.

Deeper than God

Dworkin argues that, as well as religious theists, there are many others who because they believe the universe is inherently ordered while at the same time reaching beyond our comprehension, should also be regarded as religious. He calls them religious atheists. Among scientists, Einstein is the most famous religious atheist.

Worlds in Words

Scholarly research into ‘dead’ languages evolved over many centuries into an intellectual discipline which was to become the backbone of universities’ humanities departments. The history of this progress is the subject of an impressive and hugely industrious new work.

Behind the Erin Curtain

If our economic insufficiencies in the 1950s were obvious, and our attempts to address them obviously inadequate, this might not be because history, or our inescapable national character, were stacked against us. The fault, an unlikely clerical source argued, might not be in our stars but in ourselves.

Hidden Irelands

Celia de Fréine seems to have arrived on the literary scene late but fully formed: as though she waited until her voice was mature to publish at all. Since she started, she’s been unstoppable. In an interview, she talks about the gestation of her work and her return to earlier ‘shelved’ work.

The Talking Cure

Sigmund Freud did not care greatly for his patients, and learning and teaching were more to his taste than helping and healing. Nevertheless, psychoanalysis has become in our age the pervasive orthodoxy of self-knowledge, even if its scientific claims are on a par with those of, say, aromatherapy.

The Long Slide

Philip Larkin’s restless spirit could not commit to any one course: he wrote serious poems and comical ones, had serious friends and comical ones, a religious and ‘proper’ lover and a sceptical, flamboyant one; he coveted fame and luxury – bathing and booze and birds – yet was known as a hermit.

Warts and All

John Deakin recorded in his photographs the Soho of the 1950s, a bohemia inhabited by painters like Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud and poets like WS Graham and George Barker. Though his portraits are often harsh, they are not devoid of sympathy, or pity for those crushed by life.