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.

Sean Sheehan

Hard Power

Thucydides and the pursuit of domination through warfare

Reading Empson

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

Takes All Kinds

Herodotus was intensely interested in all forms of oddity or unfamiliarity, whether relating to human behaviour or geographical curiosity. Everything is a fish that comes into his net, yet he writes without any assumption of cultural superiority attaching to his status as a Greek.

Roads Both Taken

Novelist William Gibson likes to throw you into the narrative and semiotic deep end of two worlds in which history has bifurcated. Learning to navigate involves slow reading and getting your head around new concepts and associated lexicons, but it is worth the effort.

Tarantulas and Dynamite

Nietzsche’s reputation was tarnished for a long time by his posthumous adoption by Hitler. In fact the philosopher was repelled by antisemitism. It is now clear that his writings were curated after his death by his sister Elisabeth to make them Nazi-friendly.

Alarms and Excursions

John Ruskin may be little known today, but his warnings about the effects of industrial pollution in the Victorian age still read well, while his writings and observations on art on his trips to Italy, and particularly Venice and Padua, have been hugely influential.

Betrayal as an Act of Faith

Gerard Manley Hopkins’s rejection of Anglicanism to seek truth in the teachings of the Roman church shared many features with another ‘betrayal’ which happened seventy years later, that of the so-called Cambridge spies, who abandoned capitalism for the ‘alien creed’ of communism.

No Easy Answers

Wittgenstein’s talks in Cambridge in the 1930s were creative acts, works of art one might say, that came into existence in the process of their delivery. There were no notes, no script, but ‘he thought before the class. The impression was of a tremendous concentration.’

Gentrifying Hegel

It is quite astonishing that there is no reference to Slavoj Žižek in a massive new volume which calls itself a handbook to Hegel. While the Slovenian philosopher can be challenging, his work reaches parts of Hegel that are not found or given a tamer inflection in most other commentaries.

Reading the Revolution

A plethora of new books has appeared this year, accompanied by a number of exhibitions, in response to the centenary of the Russian Revolution, the remarkable political energies it released worldwide throughout the twentieth century and its still contested historical legacy.