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

A Fetish for Failure

Eva Kenny
A few years ago the injunction to ‘Fail again. Fail better’ emerged as a mantra for the Silicon Valley types, ‘upfailing’ being, in inspirationalist thinking, just a stage of growth and self-enrichment. One shouldn’t need to say that this is all very remote from Samuel Beckett’s philosophy.
Jan 2, 2020, 18:05 PM

The Tigress in Winter

Rory Montgomery
After eleven years as prime minister, Margaret Thatcher was forced to resign in 1990. She lived another 22 years, while ‘Thatcherism’ lived on as a political memory for longer. Perhaps Labour’s huge losses to the Tories in the Midlands and North in last month’s election suggest that she is now in the process of being forgotten.
Jan 2, 2020, 18:01 PM

Standing Up for Justice

Patricia Craig
Mary Ann McCracken, sister of the executed 1798 leader Henry Joy, was an advanced thinker, a dedicated philanthropist and a model of composure, dignity and firmness. Long surviving her brother, she could be seen on Belfast docks aged 88 handing out anti-slavery pamphlets.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:53 PM

A Lick of Red Paint

Henry Patterson
The most intellectually influential journal of the British Marxist left found itself, over half a century, unable to say anything about the conflict in Ireland. Embarrassed by the sectarianism of the Provo campaign, British leftists nevertheless remained fixated on ‘the anti-imperialist struggle’.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:48 PM

An Ordinary Evil

Kevin Stevens
‘Game of Thrones’ is ubiquitous in our culture, yet two-thirds of millennial Americans do not know what Auschwitz is. A new study of Josef Mengele reminds us that we do not live in a world of sorcerers and dragons but one in which ordinary people are capable of unimaginable evil.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:43 PM

Paper-thin Walls

Andy Storey
The late Peter Sutherland was ‘among the most influential powerbrokers of the last thirty years or so’. Unfortunately, his biographer’s inability to seriously grapple with his exercise of that power causes the reader to veer between exasperation and, too often, frustrated laughter.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:40 PM

The caricature or the man?

Marilyn Piety
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s reputation suffered after attacks on him in a contemporary satirical journal, and his response to those attacks. But were the attacks fair or accurate in the first instance? And have we now been left with the caricature rather than the man?
Jan 2, 2020, 17:33 PM

An Englishman’s Arthur

Thomas Earls FitzGerald
The writer of Arthurian fantasy TH White sat out the Second World War as a conscientious objector in Co Meath. This long sojourn doesn’t appear to have given him any great love of the Irish people, whom he seems to have blamed for spurning the benefits of British civilisation.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:14 PM

Digging Deep

Amanda Bell
Robert Macfarlane’s latest exploration of the natural world leaves one with the impression of the world as a hollowed-out vessel, infinitely fragile and perilously finite, a honeycomb packed with toxic waste which will ultimately disintegrate like an aged wasps’ nest.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:10 PM

On Quijotismo

Leanne Ogasawara
Cervantes’s ‘Don Quixote’ was about a man who steps out of the matrix. Tilting at windmills, on a quest for a princess, he appears crazy ‑ and he forces us to consider that maybe we are crazy. This is why over four centuries he has remained an indispensable hero.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:01 PM

Rí-rá agus rumpy-pumpy

Philip O’Leary
Free of Victorian respectability, Gaeltacht Irish did not develop separate registers of acceptable and ‘dirty’ words. The fact that Mairtín Ó Cadhain wrote about sex scandalised those for whom the Gaeltacht was more holy ground than a place where people actually lived.
Jan 2, 2020, 16:48 PM

Mina’s Lair

Neil Hegarty
Bram Stoker is standing at his window, peering out anxiously at a figure below. The young Oscar Wilde wishes to whisk him away on a healthy, liberating seaside constitutional – but Stoker will have none of it: it wouldn’t do to be seen in the company of such a one, not in gossiping Dublin.
Jan 2, 2020, 16:13 PM

A Fog from Reykjavik

John Fleming
A participant-observer study of the making of The Fall’s 1982 album ‘Hex Enduction Hour’, recorded in Iceland and at a cinema in Hertfordshire, drips decency and likability. It could be profitably patented as a pragmatic template for art memoirs or biographies.
Jan 2, 2020, 16:08 PM

Questions of Balance

Peter Robinson
It is the balancing act of drawing transitory subjects from the experiences of a life, presenting them with a deftness and lightness of touch that still delivers a weight of implication, while shunning overt claims to attention, that is so captivating and enabling in Enda Wyley’s new collection.
Jan 2, 2020, 16:02 PM

Waltzes and Quicksteps

Éamon Mag Uidhir
Gerald Dawe has managed throughout his writing life to evade contamination with the sectarian and ideological toxins that pervade his native Northern ground. In his person and in his work he is the consummate united Irishman, equally at home in Galway, Dublin and Belfast.
Jan 2, 2020, 15:50 PM

Through the Tarmac

David O’Connor
In Deborah Levy’s new novel we are left with a sense of boundless complexity, the intertwining of present, future and past, of memory, dream and wish, hurt and desire, presence and absence, love and hate, and everything that slides between such simplifying distinctions.
Jan 2, 2020, 15:44 PM

Fearing the Forest

Miriam Balanescu
Max Porter’s follow up to ‘Grief is the Thing with Feathers’ explores the physicality of language, earthiness, the smell of ink and metal in print. The layout of the text is highly experimental: words drip, curl and crawl off the page, reminding us of their tangibility.
Jan 2, 2020, 15:38 PM