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

    One Hand Clapping

    Kevin Stevens
    Nowhere is this more true than in the United States, where the cult of celebrity holds a special place for authors and relentlessly cycles their work and personae through what Don DeLillo calls “the all-incorporating treadmill of consumption and disposal”. Though American literary life has had no shortage of self-aggrandisers the media is agitated most by those who play hard to get. DeLillo and Pynchon are recent examples. But the gold standard of American literary isolation is JD Salinger.

    Taming The Monster

    Brian Donnelly
    Kiberd argues persuasively that “the nationalism of modern Ireland is portrayed as a neurotic reaction to Englishness” and that “Irishness must be in all respects the opposite of Englishness, and masculinity the opposite of femininity”. In this context Bloom is the outsider who “disrupts the complacencies of all the settled codes with which he comes into contact”.

    What Came Up Was Goosegrass

    Peter Brooke
    The novel argues that Russia was already lost by the time of the February Revolution   that the country was so totally demoralised by liberal and socialist ideas that it could only deliver itself tamely into the hands of the Bolsheviks. In another work by Solzhenitsyn, Franco’s Spain is held up as a model of a proper Christian response to the evil of Bolshevism. Evil must be confronted by force, and the centralised, spiritually independent Roman Catholic Church is better placed to do it than Orthodoxy with its otherworldliness and tradition of subservience to the state.

    Minority Report

    Frank Callanan
    In August 1880 Parnell acted as Michael Horgan’s best man at his wedding. When he came to fetch the groom he thought him nervous and insisted on his drinking some champagne before setting out for the church. Horgan’s mother used to recall how she sprayed Parnell’s “fair beard with scent”. It was the week before the Irish leader met Katharine O’Shea.

    From The Green Island

    Fergal Lenehan
    One of the more unofficial Irish representatives in Germany, the Irish-American gunrunner John T Ryan, may have come into direct contact with Hitler in May 1923 when he was running guns for the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War. Hitler was, at this time, apparently known to have pro-Irish sympathies and to be, of course, heavily involved in ex-military, far-right circles that would have had easy access to arms.

    Not Pulling Punches

    David Askew
    As Swift knew, his complex irony can be challenging. He was aware that he had often been misunderstood, to his own detriment. Looking back on his own life, he concluded that “Had he but spar’d his Tongue and Pen, / He might have rose like other Men”. His irony, Hammond observes, “sometimes seems to saw through the branch of religious orthodoxy upon which he tried to perch”.

    No Tomorrow

    Dara McHugh
    The environmentalist James Lovelock has argued that climate change is a threat, like war, where political process must adapt to the moment, that it may be necessary to “put democracy on hold for a while”. Though it would be hard to endorse Lovelock’s contention that the problems at Copenhagen were due to a surfeit of democracy, McEwan’s hero, Michael Beard, offers only affirmation of the pessimistic reflection that the inertia of humans “is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful”.

    Ár Scéal Féin

    Brian Earls
    Although the urge to control and condemn was at its most explicit in relation to works dealing with religion and Irish history, it could surface in other contexts. On the prospect of the lower Irish being taught Greek and Roman history, Richard Edgeworth wrote “I have been told that in some schools the Greek and Roman histories have been forbidden: such abridgments as I have seen are certainly improper; to inculcate democracy and a foolish hankering for liberty is not necessary in Ireland.”

    Stop The Lights

    Enda O’Doherty
    Todorov’s version of secularism, however, is a sane and balanced one, where the state does not encroach on the church and the church does not encroach on the state. Though one suspects he is not personally religious, his writing is free of that waspish animus so characteristic of the public statements of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the Laurel and Hardy of militant, missionary atheism. In contrast to many of our contemporary secularist propagandists he requires tolerance and respect for himself – and so he extends it to others.

    Top People

    Niall Meehan
    De Valera’s policies protected and promoted indigenous economic activity, which was often under the control of a Protestant business class who quickly reconciled themselves to life in the new state, as did most of their co-religionists, who were never persecuted on the basis of their religion or perceived nationality. Sectarianism in Ireland has to be seen in its political and economic context. It is not merely an isolated or mystical aspect of religious “culture”.