Ian Sansom

Ian Sansom is director of the Oscar Wilde Centre at Trinity College Dublin.

Everything You Know: Hoods

Ian Sansom, 3 November 2016

The​ 21st-century version of Aristotle’s Poetics – and for that matter of Cicero’s On the Orator, Robert McKee’s Story, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the entire works of Syd Field, and just about every other book ever written that pretends to reveal the ways fiction, drama or poetry ‘work’ – is tvtropes.org, the...

Banksability: Iain Banks

Ian Sansom, 5 December 2013

Except for the lucky few, the rewards for writing are meagre, if not non-existent. As a money-making enterprise, writing makes no sense. According to the UK’s official graduate careers website, prospects.ac.uk (a depressing but entirely reliable source, to which I direct my own eager students when they come to me for advice before wisely becoming arts administrators, baristas, or...

To celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 a concert was held in Washington DC, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. ‘In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now,’ Obama said, truly, after will.i.am and Sheryl Crow had busked their way through Bob Marley’s ‘One...

David Vann’s novel – his debut, after a short story collection, Legend of a Suicide (2008), and a memoir, A Mile Down (2005) – is a book that makes Cormac McCarthy’s The Road read like a walk in the park. Compared to Caribou Island, The Road is grim-lit lite. After 200 pages of unrelenting misery, McCarthy breaks down and accepts the possibility of grace: after a long...

According to Hannibal Hamlin, in Psalm Culture and Early Modern English Literature (2004), English versions and translations of the Book of Psalms, the original book of Dave – supposedly written by King David, the Neim Z’mirot Yisrael (‘the sweet singer of Israel’) – ‘substantially shaped the culture of 16th and 17th-century England, resulting in creative...

Abecedary: Ian Sansom

James Francken, 20 May 2004

At the tail-end of 2000, Ian Sansom decided to move from London to a small town in County Down. He had half expected friends to dismiss his plan as a backwoods adventure, and was surprised when...

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Dream On: Bringing up Babies

Katha Pollitt, 11 September 2003

Rightly (conservative version) or wrongly (liberal version), the workplace is structured to suit men, preferably men with stay-at-home wives. The qualities rewarded there – self-reliance,...

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