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On Paul Muldoon

Clair Wills

27 January 2020
... his tink tink, tink tinkbespeaking a familiarity with the science of iron-carbon alloysthe Chinese developed alongside the Dao,he’s believed to anticipate the licethat will infest his nest by stitching intoits brush-pile the egg sacs of lice-eating spiders.This ‘time-release packet’ is just one example of what Muldoon describes elsewhere in the collection as ‘future-proofing’ (‘Once we ...

Let’s Do the Time Warp

Clair Wills: Modern Irish History

3 July 2008
Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change c.1970-2000 
by R.F. Foster.
Penguin, 228 pp., £8.99, July 2008, 978 0 14 101765 5
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... Ireland today is the place you are most likely to be happy. Your desire for a robust and rising standard of living, political freedom, strong bonds with your extended family, a marriage that survives, even a decent climate – all these wishes are most likely to be granted in the Irish Republic. At least this was the case in 2005, when Ireland came top – the UK was 29th – in an Economist survey ...

Anti-Writer

Clair Wills: Plain Brian O’Nolan

4 April 2019
The Collected Letters of Flann O’Brien 
edited by Maebh Long.
Dalkey Archive, 619 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 1 62897 183 5
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... In March​ 1957 Brian O’Nolan – better known under his pen names Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen – then aged 45, applied for a series of jobs at the radio broadcasting studios in Cork, including station supervisor, programme assistant, and balance and control officer. The same month he announced his candidacy for the Irish Senate. His principal argument in his own favour was that he was ...

Nine White Men Armed with Iron Bars

Andy Beckett: Postwar Immigrant Experience

2 November 2017
Lovers and Strangers: An Immigrant History of Postwar Britain 
by Clair Wills.
Allen Lane, 442 pp., £25, August 2017, 978 1 84614 716 6
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... a coincidence that the West Midlands produced Enoch Powell. Four years after Hall’s house-hunting expedition, the Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West made his ‘rivers of blood’ speech. ClairWills doesn’t write about it until almost the end of Lovers and Strangers: An Immigrant History of Postwar Britain – as if delaying the moment as long as possible – and then only quotes a few ...

No Waverers Allowed

Clair Wills: Eamonn McCann

23 May 2019
War and an Irish Town 
by Eamonn McCann.
Haymarket, 288 pp., £14.99, October 2018, 978 1 60846 567 5
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... Who began​ the killing? At root, arguments about the genesis of the Troubles are arguments about responsibility for murder, and that’s one reason it has proved so hard to disentangle history from blame in accounts of Northern Ireland since the late 1960s. In May 1974, in the New York Review of Books, the critic Seamus Deane lambasted Conor Cruise O’Brien, then minister for posts and telegraphs ...

In the Gasworks

David Wheatley

18 May 2000
To Ireland, I 
by Paul Muldoon.
Oxford, 150 pp., £19.99, March 2000, 0 19 818475 1
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Bandanna 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.99, February 1999, 0 571 19762 0
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The Birds 
translated by Paul Muldoon, by Richard Martin.
Gallery Press, 80 pp., £13.95, July 1999, 1 85235 245 0
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Reading Paul Muldoon 
by Clair Wills.
Bloodaxe, 222 pp., £10.95, October 1998, 1 85224 348 1
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... smugly convinced of its irresistibility as an object of academic consumption. Despite the fact that Muldoon is probably second only to Heaney among contemporary Irish poets as scholarly canon-fodder, ClairWills’s Reading Paul Muldoon is only the second full-length study to be devoted to his work. Wills covers much the same ground as Tim Kendall’s 1996 study Paul Muldoon, though in less detail (she ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan

7 June 2018
... In the tower he would sometimes look out and see for miles and wonder at his own luck.‘In​ a neighbourhood thickly studded with elegant villas and mansions,’ Charles Dickens’s sub-editor W.H. Wills wrote in Household Words in 1850, ‘Bayswater and Notting Hill, in the parish of Kensington, is a plague-spot, scarcely equalled for its insalubrity by any other in London.’ A workhouse stood near ...

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