For some it is only a matter of time before the digital world catches up with its human creators, but for Wittgenstein it was a matter of principle that computer codes could never acquire the nuances and complexity of ordinary language, let alone the resonances of literature.
The plain-speaking, undeceived tone of Julian Barnes’s narrators, together with his suburban settings, can make him seem a quintessentially English writer. Normally, however, the gradually revealed unreliability of these narrators serves to subvert the assumptions of the middle class world.
A new anthology of essays on the year 1916 seeks to internationalise the study of the Easter Rising, often treated as a purely domestic matter, and to restore that year, long neglected in favour of Bolshevik 1917, to its proper place as the revolutionary hinge of twentieth century politics.
A ‘peace’ consisting of two separate communities deterring each other from dominance in a fragile see-saw balance of power, where there is no real sharing in a common civic culture, is no real peace. What is required instead is Christian reconciliation based on a rejection of sectarianism.
A major new study explores the relationship between the American and French revolutions and goes on to consider how events in the Thirteen States impacted on Canada, Ireland, Haiti, Spain and Latin America, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Greece in the period up to 1848.
Groups which benefited hugely from NAMA were the lawyers, estate agents and surveyors whose businesses had been hit by the bursting of the bubble. As the government cut allowances for carers and deprived the chronically sick of medical cards, €2.6 billion was set aside for professional fees.
Samuel Beckett largely attempted to escape the maternal embrace, insisting that his future would be decided by him rather than her. Philip Larkin’s relationship with his mother seems to have been much warmer, based at least partially on a shared pessimistic attitude to life.
George Orwell set himself the mission of uncovering and ‘calling out’ all forms of political lying and evasion, particularly those of the people he called ‘the boiled rabbits of the Left’. He often chose his targets well, though he was far from being without foibles or prejudices himself.
Today’s bulbous literary novels are remarkably tolerant of longueurs, asides and arbitrary disquisitions, says Thomas McGuane. That can be their virtue. Not so short stories. Short stories share some of the traits of poetry, which could scarcely tolerate the liberties of novels.