Angry Old Man
Friends of Evelyn Waugh often wondered how he could reconcile his beastly behaviour with his deep faith. Waugh was not exactly apologetic: ‘You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid, I would hardly be a human being.’
After the Catechism
Morality and moral behaviour, based on informed choices, lead to good laws and good policy. There is a concern that, if religious education disappears from schools, society could bankrupt the moral capital accumulated through centuries of Christian faith – unless we have something strong to replace it.
Suffer Little Children
A collection of poems by Connie Roberts, who grew up in an institution after being removed from a violent home in rural Ireland, portrays her horrific childhood world both inspiringly and artistically, while refusing to ‘tell it slant’ or to ‘gussy it up / in Sunday-best similes’.
Afric McGlinchey’s second collection revolves around a central conceit – the fisher cat, familiar of the fifteenth century alchemist Dom Perlet. Drowned by ‘vigilantes’ in the Seine, the animal reappeared with its master some time later when they took up their old pursuits anew.
Mary O’Malley’s poems have seen a thing or two, but the light has not gone out. They are honest, tough, tender, beautiful, alive to the redemptive possibilities of Ireland’s languages, tuned into popular speech and ready to walk into the world and find something worth loving.
A Brief Dream
A thoroughly researched novel centred on the events leading to the 1798 rebellion in the North is both a gripping narrative and a fascinating account of the half-forgotten history of political Presbyterianism, a movement in touch with the most radical ideas in France and America.
The Ends of History
The figure of the Polish-born historian Lewis Namier is at the centre of an entertaining and hugely informative new study of intellectuals and of practising historians ‑ not always a synonymous set ‑ in the post-1945 atmosphere of the Cold War.
Cranking it Out
The musician John Beckett, cousin of the writer, comes across as a difficult character – some thought a crank. Stories abound of his rudeness, especially with drink taken. His musical tastes too were extreme: Handel was too commercial, Beethoven merely ‘souped-up Haydn’.
Louis MacNeice’s career was a matter of negotiating between conflicting realities, Belfast and Dublin, Ireland North and South, Ireland and England, Europe and America, peace and war ‑ he chose London over Ireland and a then non-combatant US lest he miss history.
The Harp That Once
A reprint of an important historical work on Irish music reveals that the Armagh-born collector Edward Bunting with some justice regarded Thomas Moore as having plagiarised his collected and published music and sanitised it, making himself wealthy and famous.