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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

The Homes of Tipperary

Thomas O’Grady
Donal Ryan has, in previous work, established his facility for inhabiting the minds and spirits of his characters through deft deployment of varying narrative points of view. In his new novel he opts for authorial omniscience, a strategy he employs skilfully and with radiant effect.
Feb 4, 2021, 19:16 PM

Sins of the Fathers

Maedhbh McNamara
The proportion of Irish men who acknowledged responsibility for the ‘illegitimate’ children they had fathered was low. Few single women had the resources to raise a child without the support of the father or of their family, neither of which, in many cases, was available.
Feb 4, 2021, 19:11 PM

But Is It Art?

Robert Ballagh
It is curious how ‘mimesis’, the ability to accurately depict nature, ‘skill’, the deployment of acquired manual dexterity, and ‘beauty’, formerly key elements in judging art, have been downgraded by the art industry gatekeepers in favour of the charms of the ‘innovative’ and the ‘cutting edge’.
Feb 4, 2021, 18:47 PM

A Hero and his Valet

Afric McGlinchey
The runaway slave Tony Small saved the life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald after a battle in the American War of Independence. The two became close, with Fitzgerald hiring Small as his personal servant and taking him with him on his travels, to revolutionary France and ultimately Dublin.
Feb 4, 2021, 18:44 PM

A Man About a Dog

Ricca Edmondson
What is alluring about dogs includes ‘their freedom, their lack of inhibition’, their dwelling in the moment – without apprehensiveness, but without hope. This is enviable in a way, yet we don’t entirely want it. Having a pet can extend one’s being, but it needn’t make one want to be a pet.
Feb 4, 2021, 18:38 PM

The Blame Game

Emmet O’Connor
It is not in the nature of states to give up territory. Why did the Provisionals, after several years of conflict, continue to believe that a few hundred men with Armalites could defeat a nuclear power? How could they claim to understand imperialism and believe that Britain secretly wanted to leave?
Feb 4, 2021, 15:17 PM

Quote, Don’t Dote

Declan Kiberd
In his latest book, Joseph Hassett seeks to restore the full poetic and personal context to some of Yeats’s most famous and most quoted lines. The result is one of the most beautiful and enjoyable books on the poet ever to call forth the skills of a gifted designer and of a true critic.
Feb 4, 2021, 15:12 PM

Mission Accomplished

Gerard Smyth
The thinking behind Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s working practice – the testing of experience, the quotidian, memory and knowledge through poetic process – is crucial to understanding her work and to the rigour that saw her finding her distinctive lyrical self at the outset of her career.
Feb 4, 2021, 15:09 PM

The Chancer Debagged

Alan Titley
Frank McCourt could scarce remember a time when the sun shone on the drab Limerick of ‘Angela’s Ashes’. I did the stupid thing of checking out the weather in those years of slosh and slop and lo, many of the summers and autumns were as dry as a cow pat on a humming July evening.
Feb 4, 2021, 14:59 PM

No We Can’t

Daniel Geary
Barack Obama had all the qualities that make for a great president. Competent, incorruptible, calm yet decisive, he had a genuine care for how his governance affected ordinary people. He was truly a once-in-a-generation politician ‑ which makes his failures only more disheartening.
Feb 4, 2021, 14:54 PM

Hear No Evil

Farrel Corcoran
It is widely accepted that there was often collusion – and more ‑ between loyalist killers and parts of the security forces in the North. But the instinct of the British state apparatus is still towards denial. Avoidance, censorship and obfuscation have created a suffocating blanket of silence.
Feb 4, 2021, 14:51 PM

Labour Titan

Henry Patterson
Ernest Bevin never knew who his father was and was orphaned aged eight. He started work as a farm labourer at eleven and later became a lay preacher and union organiser. As foreign secretary in the post-1945 Labour government he helped stiffen the Americans’ resolve to stand up to Stalin.
Feb 4, 2021, 14:48 PM

Reading Empson

Sean Sheehan
William Empson’s reputation as a severely intellectual critic can be offputting for anyone coming to him for the first time, but it’s a misleading view. His mission was in another direction altogether, seeking to clarify what appears abstruse by establishing roots in ordinary life.
Feb 4, 2021, 14:45 PM

News from Nowhere

Michael Foley
Some of what passes for news comes not from ‘the coal face’ but from the fevered brains of its inventors. In a guide to news in the era of fake news Alan Rusbridger says Murdoch’s Fox News will have a ‘special place in journalistic hell’ for its Covid coverage, which contributed to numberless deaths.
Feb 4, 2021, 14:40 PM

A Nurse in Wartime

Patrick Duffy
The tempo of life in wartime is swift and changeable. Men and women come into and slip out of one’s life, never to be seen again. Have they been killed or just posted to another theatre? Mary Mulry from Galway experienced WWII in London and Europe and wrote about it movingly in her diary.
Feb 4, 2021, 14:32 PM

Not for Gain Alone

Max Skjönsberg
Edmund Burke is often regarded as the father of political conservatism, but his views were in many ways quite different from those of a more recent Tory icon: society not only existed but was a sacred partnership between the living, the dead and those who were yet to be born.
Feb 4, 2021, 14:25 PM

A Naipauline Conversion?

Suryapratim Roy
A new biographical study charts VS Naipaul’s progress from confidently judging the world to be simply ‘what it is’ to more ambivalently ‘charting a way in the world’. In later Naipaul, we find a writer more sympathetic to both his own past and the way others make sense of their lives.
Feb 4, 2021, 14:20 PM