To the extent that Russia’s project of joining the Western developed world has failed, and it has failed, its search for a distinctive world stance appears urgent; the paradigm of a united state and church, defined against a decadent, liberal and atheist West, is much favoured.
Bodies preserved in bogland, dating from the Iron Age or even before, are found right across northwestern Europe. It is difficult to know a great deal of their lives or beliefs or interpret their deaths, but what we do know is that their killers tried to obliterate them; and failed.
The Long Conversation
We should neither heroise nor demonise the Romans, writes leading classicist Mary Beard, but we should take them seriously and not close down our long conversation with their legacy. But has that legacy been everywhere and always the same one?
Orhan Pamuk is a writer whose life and work are held aloft as emblematic of his country’s wishes and woes. In his new novel, Pamuk suggests that tradition in the public sphere need not be dangerous
Terror Without Mercy
Huge numbers of people died in the Nazi concentration camps but they were not where the majority of Jews perished. Rather they were an instrument of the regime’s desire for total repression and control which changed and adapted to suit the particular needs of the time.
A Cooling Cinder
A fictional portrait of Dublin in the years leading up to the Great War and 1916 is brimming with ideas and has a great deal of historical interest, even if its author’s ill-digested anger at his enemies and overschematic approach to characterisation may reduce the artistry.
Wee Book, Big Muscles
Don Paterson should be recognised as a poet who offers us strenuousness and sweetness in a way that nobody has since John Donne; he kills his enemies and loves his friends, making us vibrantly aware of poetry’s capabilities as an affectionate medium.
A memoir can be an expansive story in which, regrettably, nothing is left out and which one would really prefer not to have to listen to. Or it can be a careful literary construction where much raw material has clearly been set aside and what remains is shaped by patient artifice.
Getting the Left on Track
A new book that argues that the way forward for social democracy is more state, more tax, more spending fails to convince. If these were recipes likely to be favoured by the electorate there would be social democratic governments thriving all over the Western world.
The Risen People
The 1916 Rising can summon up more unanimity of feeling in the nation than many other events that occurred a few years before or after. Nevertheless, whatever our sympathy for the participants, we should be wary of considering it a well-planned military affair.