I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Enda O’Doherty

And Another Thing

The most recent translation of WG Sebald’s work offers the expected pleasure of his engaging prose style and an introduction to the world of some intriguing German writers.

A Moralist in the Newsroom

As well as being a novelist and philosopher, Albert Camus was, at various times of his life, a journalist, working as reporter, editor and columnist. It was a profession about which he held very strong views.

An Awfully Big Adventure

Patrick Leigh Fermor was a man of great talents who inspired affection and deep friendship among those who knew him and who was fortunate in the friends he made.

NAUGHTY BUT NICE

Jane Austen inherited a tradition in which the novel was expected to teach good behaviour. But that was not what interested her. Her fictions are less moral examples than celebrations of wit and intelligence.

Tickled To Death

"The barons of the media, with their red-topped assassins, are the biggest beasts in the modern jungle. They have no predators. They are untouchable. They laugh at the law; they sneer at Parliament. They have the power to hurt us, and they do, with gusto and precision, with joy and criminality. Prime ministers quail before them, and that is how they like it."

Back To Basics

It is one of the weaknesses of Judt’s position – and a symptomatic one – that he never addresses the question of affordability. “Even in social democratic Norway”, he complains, failure to demonstrate that one is seeking work can be grounds for losing benefit. Judt obviously find this a deplorable state of affairs but has no interest in asking why some people might have felt it was necessary – even in social democratic Norway. Indeed throughout the book he exhibits all the fastidious distaste for questions of money one might expect from an old-school professor in the humanities, even going so far at one point as to suggest that the only conceivable purpose of teaching business studies to undergraduates must be to extinguish the naturally altruistic feelings of the young.

All Things Considered

As a child, Czesław Miłosz wrote, 'I was primarily a discoverer of the world, not as pain but as beauty ... Happiness experienced in boyhood does not disappear without a trace.'

Stop The Lights

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.

Out of the Ice

In most communist societies, the intelligentsia, and in particular the artistic intelligentsia – engineers of the human soul in Stalin’s phrase – were afforded the opportunity to feel important and live well, if at the price of a slight (in Russia not so slight) risk of things ending quite badly ... All that was necessary to keep things on the right course was that if kindly advice about the content of one’s work was offered one should take it.

The Border Campaign

Salandra instructed Italy’s regional governors to prepare reports for him on people’s attitudes to the coming conflict. The findings were that most people thought going to war could be justified only if the homeland was under attack. Business leaders, with the exception of the large northern industrialists, were against fighting. The governor of Naples reckoned that ninety per cent of all social classes were anti-war. Peasants, whose sons were most susceptible to the draft, regarded it as a calamity, like famine or plague; only the intelligentsia was in favour.