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Belfast Book

Patricia Craig, 5 June 1986

Lonely the man without heroes 
by M.S. Power.
Heinemann, 222 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 434 59960 3
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The Pearlkillers 
by Rachel Ingalls.
Faber, 205 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 571 13795 4
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The Girls 
by John Bowen.
Hamish Hamilton, 182 pp., £8.95, April 1986, 0 241 11867 0
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To have and to hold 
by Deborah Moggach.
Viking, 320 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 670 80812 1
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Vacant Possession 
by Hilary Mantel.
Chatto, 239 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 7011 3047 4
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Breaking the rules 
by Caroline Lassalle.
Hamish Hamilton, 280 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 241 11837 9
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The Bay of Silence 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 163 pp., £8.95, May 1986, 0 224 02345 4
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... The first of these writers, M.S. Power, has a searing metaphor to describe the effect of Ireland on certain people, those native to it and others: nailed to the place, they end up as in a crucifixion. ‘You and I are a crucified breed,’ says one leading terrorist (half-way through his latest novel) to another. ‘Just set foot on the soil of Ireland and you’ll be crucified to it forever,’ thinks another Power character, an honourable English colonel (retired), recalling the words of a high-up republican, or – it may be – an RUC inspector ...

Blights

Patricia Craig, 23 April 1987

A Darkness in the Eye 
by M.S. Power.
Heinemann, 212 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 434 59961 1
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The Stars at Noon 
by Denis Johnson.
Faber, 181 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14607 4
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Like Birds in the Wilderness 
by Agnes Owens.
Fourth Estate, 138 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 947795 51 0
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Fool’s Sanctuary 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 132 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 241 12035 7
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A Fatal Inversion 
by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell).
Viking, 317 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 670 80977 2
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Sisters of the Road 
by Barbara Wilson.
Women’s Press, 202 pp., £3.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4073 9
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The price you pay 
by Hannah Wakefield.
Women’s Press, 245 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4072 0
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... With A Darkness in the Eye M.S. Power completes his terrorist trilogy. It is set, as are parts one and two, in a characterless city called Belfast, and opens as they do with news of a killing, before back-tracking to delineate the circumstances in which the victim met his end. The current victim is Seamus Reilly, himself previously a death-dealer on a large scale – one-time head, in fact, of the IRA’s Punishment Squad, and author of quite a few bloody dispatches ...

How criminals think

John Lanchester, 13 September 1990

Love and Death on Long Island 
by Gilbert Adair.
Heinemann, 138 pp., £10.95, July 1990, 9780434006229
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Going wrong 
by Ruth Rendell.
Hutchinson, 250 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 09 174300 1
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The Burden of Proof 
by Scott Turow.
Bloomsbury, 515 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7475 0673 6
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Crucible of Fools 
by M.S. Power.
Hamish Hamilton, 165 pp., £12.99, August 1990, 0 241 13006 9
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... of the older (essentially high-modernist) frontier between high culture and the so-called mass or commercial culture’. This effacement of frontiers, which has often taken parodic form (the soup cans of Andy Warhol, the deliberate kitsch of architects like Philip Venturi, author of the feisty manifesto Learning from Las Vegas) is now itself parodied ...

Modi does it again

Tariq Ali, 6 June 2019

... history) and Irfan Habib’, or treat Arundhati Roy as Joan of Arc. What’s not in doubt is that most mainstream publishers will be scared away from publishing critical, scholarly works on the origins and development of Hinduism, the RSS etc. This is already happening and will get much worse. Self-censorship, the result of fear, cowardice and declining ...

Nietzsche’s Centaur

Bernard Williams, 4 June 1981

Nietzsche on Tragedy 
by M.S. Silk and J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 441 pp., £27.50, March 1981, 0 521 23262 7
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Nietzsche: A Critical Life 
by Ronald Hayman.
Weidenfeld, 424 pp., £18.50, March 1980, 0 297 77636 3
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Nietzsche. Vol. 1: The Will to Power as Art 
by Martin Heidegger, translated by David Farrell Krell.
Routledge, 263 pp., £11.50, March 1981, 0 7100 0744 2
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... who was indeed the earlier, but (as Silk and Stern point out) it is certainly Sophocles who most clearly and unpityingly embodies what Nietzsche had in mind. The third great tragedian, Euripides, destroyed tragedy, according to Nietzsche, or rather helped it to destroy itself, in association with the spirit of Socrates, that spirit of ‘Alexandrian ...

Ideas of War

Johann Sommerville, 27 October 1988

The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Cambridge, 234 pp., £15, May 1988, 0 521 32607 9
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War and Society in Europe of the Old Regime: 1618-1789 
by M.S. Anderson.
Fontana, 239 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 00 686053 2
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Waging war: A Philosophical Introduction 
by Ian Clark.
Oxford, 154 pp., £17.50, April 1988, 0 19 827325 8
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... by Michael Roberts in 1955. Professor Parker accepts and develops the notion. Perhaps the single most important aspect of the revolution was the victory of the gun. In Venice the gun replaced the crossbow in 1490, and elsewhere guns came into fashion in the early 16th century. The introduction of the musket in the 1550s accelerated the process: in the ...

Time to think again

Michael Neve, 3 March 1988

Benjamin Disraeli: Letters 1838-1841 
edited by M.G Wiebe, J.B. Conacher, John Matthews and M.S. Millar.
Toronto, 458 pp., £40, March 1987, 0 8020 5736 5
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Salisbury: The Man and his Policies 
edited by Lord Blake and Hugh Cecil.
Macmillan, 298 pp., £29.50, May 1987, 0 333 36876 2
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... philosophy was its fundamental irrelevance to the main task of acquiring – or re-acquiring – power. The heady idealism that characterised a great deal of 18th and 19th-century political thought, in Britain and Europe, was itself an index of the distance between such thought (and such thinkers) and the centres of political control. In the gap between ...

Strictly Technical

Aijaz Ahmad: India’s Far-Right, 19 March 2020

The RSS: A Menace to India 
by A.G. Noorani.
LeftWord, 547 pp., £33.75, September 2019, 978 81 934666 8 1
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Messengers of Hindu Nationalism: How the RSS Reshaped India 
by Walter Andersen and Shridhar Damle.
Hurst, 405 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 78738 025 7
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... Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India’s National Volunteer Organisation, is the oldest, largest and most successful far-right group in the world today. It is also the effective ruling power in India. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is merely a political front – one of numerous fronts – for the RSS. Narendra ...

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