A new study of evolution features a fascinating autobiographical voyage through the development of the author’s own ideas. Too often scientific teaching in the university relies too much on what are presumed to be facts. Yet many such “facts” turn out later to be ephemeral.
Literary quality, Robert Bolaño said, was not just about writing well, because anybody can do that, or even writing marvellously well: anybody can do that too. It was about knowing how to thrust your head into the darkness and understanding that literature is a dangerous calling.
A biographer of Ernest Hemingway has argued that his life can be read in terms of a quest for sainthood, a struggle to be not just a good writer but also a good man. A blow by blow account of the life, however, reveals to what degree his ego got in the way, causing him to fall short.
Mervyn Wall’s satires are in a playful and sometimes whimsical tradition which resists the uplift of the gods and heroes phase of the Irish revival and which includes many of the works of James Stephens and, at a pinch, Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds and The Poor Mouth.
Studies of the erosion of Catholic religious practice among the Irish in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s found that many emigrants very quickly melted into the non-religious atmosphere of the host country as soon as they felt they were no longer under close observation.
The coincidence of an enthusiasm for Gaelic culture and devout Catholicism in many of the revolutionary generation, and later in the official ideology of the state, disguises the indifference or hostility of the church to the Irish language in the nineteenth century.
Edward Said can be called the father of postcolonial studies, but it could be argued that his political commentaries were as important as his theories and that, more than a decade after his death, they are still relevant to the contemporary situation in the region of his birth.
Asenath Nicholson, a progressive campaigner for temperance and vegetarianism, first met the Irish in the slums of Manhattan. Visiting the country just before and during the Famine, she wrote what Frank O’Connor described as ‘a Protestant love song to a Catholic people’.