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

Nose Stuck in a Book

Siobhán Parkinson
A certain kind of child can be sceptical of the benefits of fresh air, sturdy play or hand-me-down versions of femininity or masculinity, especially when a vast and various world is within reach simply through knowing how 26 letters variously combine and which way up to hold a book.
Jun 8, 2018, 14:50 PM

The Ascent of Women

Ann Kennedy Smith

‘The average standard of mental power in man must be above that of women,’ Charles Darwin asserted. The opinion was perhaps surprising given the number of talented and active women he knew personally, as well as the wide-ranging social disadvantages they faced as a sex. Women working in the fields of botany, entomology and education often corresponded with the great scientist. 

May 5, 2018, 13:39 PM

Not So Simple

Declan O’Driscoll
When a narrator declares her boredom and indifference, the danger is that this will be met with a responding yawn from an equally uninvolved reader. What maintains interest in Joanna Walsh’s work is the quality of the writing and the honesty of the insights.
May 5, 2018, 13:35 PM

Let’s Shop

Caoilfhionn Ní Bheacháin
‘Consumer culture’ may not be as new as we think it is. Consider the ordinary Venetian oar-maker who left his widow forty-three shirts, twenty-five sheets, sixty-three tablecloths and napkins and 105 pewter plates in 1633.  And what does Harrods’ offering of a hundred models of briar pipe tell us about the consumption patterns of London gentlemen in the 1890s?
May 5, 2018, 13:22 PM

Solace and Silliness

Keith Payne
As a poet, Iggy McGovern celebrates certainties - the certainty of the slow ticking of a public house clock, ‘a quarter-hour ahead’, the certainty of scientific exploration, of a life clearly recalled, the certainty of the BBC Home Service and of course, the certainty of ageing.
May 5, 2018, 13:19 PM

Not So Very Different

Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke
There can at times be an attention-seeking particularism about Irish writing – look at us, we like to say, look how unique, and how very interesting, we are. When I was a boy, we were taught that post-independence Ireland was poor but uniquely virtuous. Today we are taught that it was poor and uniquely wicked. Both positions are misguided: we were never as different as people have made out. 
May 5, 2018, 13:06 PM

Morsels for a Feast

Edward Clarke
Out of a few ‘crumbs’ - the greening blade of a crocus, a gnarly old olive tree, the chatter of finch, the clouds that drift aimlessly by - Mark Burrows has gathered in his new collection, like a busker in the subway or Christ in a desert place, enough to handsomely sustain us.
May 5, 2018, 12:56 PM

Noises from Beneath

Angela Nagle
Cyberutopians promised us the Internet would bring the end of hierarchies, industry, nationalism and gender oppression. But its political claims have proven largely empty while it has continued to spawn a particularly vicious male geek culture of obscenity and misogyny. Nagle’s essay, published in 2013, introduced themes which were later to be developed in her very successful book Kill All Normies (2017).
May 5, 2018, 12:44 PM

Oral Culture and Popular Autonomy

Brian Earls
William Carleton at times conceived of his great narrative enterprise as a form of naive ethnography, asserting that his stories contained more “facts” about Ireland than any previously published work. His sources were multiple, his sea of story extending from refracted folktales, via Victorian melodrama, to the most commonplace clichés of commercial fiction and, indeed, improving tales. At its heart are the narratives and other oral forms of the pre-famine Irish countryside. 
May 5, 2018, 12:35 PM

Folks Like Us

Carlo Gébler
The central characters in Bernard MacLaverty’s ‘Midwinter Break’ are frail, contrary, inadequate, self-serving, self-destructive, hopeless, hopeful, desperate, kindly, thoughtless, and all the other things that make people people. No wonder their story is so fascinating.
May 5, 2018, 12:28 PM

A Time In Between

Éadaoín Lynch
Éadaoín Lynch writes on the British literature of the Second World War. Writers such as Roald Dahl wrote directly about the experience of killing in combat, and the godlike power of mechanised warfare. The dominant mode of writing death and killing lay in understatement, detachment and voyeurism.
May 5, 2018, 12:02 PM

Giant Step

Dick Edelstein
While Geraldine Mitchell’s two preceding volumes of poetry were notably cohesive, in her new collection she constructs a more all-embracing context while maintaining an easily identifiable stylistic continuity. The result represents a considerable leap forward in her work.
May 5, 2018, 11:55 AM

Talking Heads

Deirdre Serjeantson.
As recently as 1996, an English editor of an edition of a seventeenth century play wrote in a footnote to explain to students a puzzling reference that “the Irish were notoriously cruel and bloodthirsty”. This of course is very much a matter of perspective. Both sides in the sixteenth and seventeenth century conflict in Ireland used extreme violence. The Elizabethan English tended to see Irish beheadings as savagery; their own decapitations were simply an expression of due process.
May 5, 2018, 11:44 AM

Inventing the Working Class

Marc Mulholland.
Karl Marx, born 200 years ago this month, was ‘a true and loyal friend, but a vehement and hateful enemy’. To be in his small circle was to feel part of something historic, but also to be exposed to constant critical scrutiny. Once he feared for his political reputation, Marx let no politesse hold him back. His correspondence with Friedrich Engels is full of unedifying abuse of almost everyone they knew.
May 5, 2018, 11:29 AM

Humanism Comes to Town

Toby Barnard
Many of the features of other European Renaissance cities were missing from Dublin: no vibrant centre of learning, only an attenuated court, little local printing. Yet traders, administrators, soldiers and clerics arrived from overseas, as did manuscripts and books.
May 5, 2018, 10:44 AM

Puttin’ On the Ritz

Patricia Craig
Zadie Smith is an opponent of dullness, mediocrity, pusillanimity and taking yourself too seriously; she is a champion, and in her work an embodiment, of position, attitude, rhythm and style, like her favourite dancers, Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson. Her essays afford not just pleasure but joy.
May 4, 2018, 18:52 PM

Channelling God

Kevin Power
In 1954 Norman Mailer discovered marijuana. It gave him an insight into the mind of the Almighty, which it turned out was quite a lot like his own. He began to formulate the ideas that would shape his literary work over the next decade. Unfortunately they were not very good ideas.
May 4, 2018, 18:44 PM

Manderley, Again

Lia Mills
Daphne du Maurier’s classic story ‘Rebecca’ is more an anti-romantic than a romantic novel. It is also a study of jealousy, a portrait of the imbalance of power in a marriage, a psychological thriller, and a crime drama with its conventions turned inside out.
May 4, 2018, 18:11 PM

Before The Fall

Andy Pollak
In 1945 a new housing authority in Northern Ireland set itself the target of building 30,000 houses over ten years, houses that would be allocated on the basis of need, not religious affiliation. In Belfast, some religiously integrated estates lasted, and thrived, until the start of the Troubles.
May 4, 2018, 17:09 PM

Politics in the Margins

Anthony Roche
Though he was long perceived as an apolitical writer, Samuel Beckett’s three main publishers, in Paris, London and New York, were known for works with an overt politics and a dedication to civil liberties. This context mattered to Beckett in terms of where his work appeared.
May 4, 2018, 17:01 PM