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Irishness is for other people

Terry Eagleton: Enrique Vila-Matas, 19 July 2012

Dublinesque 
by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated by Anne McLean and Rosalind Harvey.
Harvill Secker, 245 pp., £16.99, June 2012, 978 1 84655 489 6
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... Enrique Vila-Matas’s new novel centres on Bloomsday, the annual celebration in Dublin of the day on which Joyce’s Ulysses is set. Many nations celebrate mythical events, but Ireland commemorates a fictional one. It is as if Britain were to dedicate a feast day to Falstaff or to the Artful Dodger. For some in Ireland, Bloomsday is a useful alternative to memorialising the Easter Rising or the United Irish Insurrection: honouring uprisings against the British has been controversial ever since the shadow of the IRA hung over the country ...

Knowing more

Rosalind Mitchison, 14 September 1989

Poets, Polities and the People 
by V.G. Kiernan, edited by Harvey Kaye.
Verso, 239 pp., £29.95, June 1989, 0 86091 245 0
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For King and Conscience: John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee 
by Magnus Linklater and Christian Hesketh.
Weidenfeld, 244 pp., £16.95, June 1989, 0 297 79540 6
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... alternative bog of Highland myth. At least Kiernan does better on the Covenanters than his editor, Harvey Kaye, who thinks that what they were fighting for was the National Covenant of 1638 instead of the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. I would not like to be dogmatic and state that confusing these two very different assertions is the biggest howler ...

Launch the Icebergs!

Tim Lewens: Who Was Max Perutz?, 15 November 2007

Max Perutz and the Secret of Life 
by Georgina Ferry.
Chatto, 352 pp., £25, July 2007, 978 0 7011 7695 2
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... or any of nature’s other more minor confidences uncovered by the likes of Darwin or William Harvey. To learn the secret of life is to figure out that DNA has a double-helical structure. And while Perutz did not make that discovery, he did run the Cambridge research unit in which the most notorious episodes of the double-helix story took place – the ...

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