Iris Murdoch’s Easter 1916 novel ‘The Red and the Green’ (1965) expresses some of her own early Marxist and feminist attitudes, as when a character asserts that ‘being a woman is like being Irish. Everyone says you’re important and nice, but you take second place all the same’.
In the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, published one hundred years ago this year, the hero’s father, Simon Dedalus, describes the Irish as a ‘priestridden Godforsaken race’. That claim may once have had validity, but it does not any longer ‑ at least as far as the ‘priestridden’ part is concerned.
Joseph Roth took stylistic risks in his journalism, but they almost always paid off. He became one of the most highly respected contributors to the German press – until 1933, when, as an anti-Nazi and a Jew, he suddenly found himself unemployable. He died in exile in France in 1939.
Rob Doyle’s new collection demands to be read if for no other reason than to observe what the new generation of talent is beginning to produce by way of a tradition moving steadily away from McGahern’s Ireland into a foreignness no less real for being in no way green.