Historians often talk about memory, while actually writing in looser terms about history. There is also a prevalent tendency to confuse memory with historiography, which bolsters a delusional self-image of the professional historian as the primary custodian of communal memory.
Salman Rushdie’s new novel is set in an America switching from Obama to Trump. While it may not be entirely clear what he is telling us about the ‘post-truth’ world, Rushdie’s primary gift as a storyteller seems to have survived in a story full of verve and invention.
Research, backed by large financial investment, is forging ahead to turn fiction into fact and reproduce human intelligence in androids that approximate to humans. What effect might these efforts, if successful, have on how we perceive and value our own intelligence and consciousness?
Augustus Young’s imagined conversations between Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin, taking the form of a Socratic dialogue, range across the role of ideas in art, public versus private, the role of the audience, love, happiness, knowledge, Marx (Karl and Groucho) and racism.
Those who still see a future for Irish Catholicism argue that in a materialist and individualistic age it can minister to ‘a deep spiritual hunger’. But there is little evidence that Catholics see church teachings as a means of living a good life, or its prayers and rituals as a means of being spiritual.
A new study of reading in the eighteenth century returns books to the settings in which they were enjoyed, stressing how they were valued as aids to refinement and self-improvement and how frequently they were encountered through being read aloud for the benefit of a group.
A valuable study of the treatment of Ireland in sections of the German print media shows an evolution from a reliance on a jumble of cliches about the nation – often of English provenance – to a more informed engagement, particularly on the part of Hamburg’s ‘Die Zeit’.