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tarry easty

Roy Foster: Joyce in Trieste, 30 November 2000

The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste 1904-20 
by John McCourt.
Lilliput, 306 pp., £25, June 2000, 1 901866 45 9
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... A few weeks ago I wandered round inescapably bourgeois Rapallo, at the end of the season: just down the coast from Genoa’s seductive murkiness, and the bay of San Remo where Ripley bludgeoned Dickie Greenleaf to death, but a world away from both. The resort now thrives on conferences, and there was a world congress of Nietzscheans in full swing. This was apposite ...

Garret’s Crusade

Roy Foster, 21 January 1982

... Garret’s crusade’ is the affectionately dismissive term given by Dublin opinion – traditionally dismissive if seldom affectionate – to the Irish Premier’s desire to abolish the ‘sectarian’ articles of the Constitution which enshrine Catholic social doctrine. But the reaction in Irish politics at large has been less worldly-wise, and the ensuing fuss has obscured some of the most important implications of the affair ...

Hillside Men

Roy Foster: Ernie O’Malley, 16 July 1998

Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual 
by Richard English.
Oxford, 284 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 01 982059 3
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... W.B. Yeats Liked to think (and write) that the insurrection of Easter 1916 was ignited by a generation of cultural revolutionaries; and it did indeed bear – in retrospect at least – some resemblance to a revolution of the intellectuals. But the towering figures among Irish writers during the long upheaval from the Fin de Siècle to the Thirties lived aside from the world of the insurrectionists ...

Partnership of Loss

Roy Foster: Ireland since 1789, 13 December 2007

Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789-2006 
by Paul Bew.
Oxford, 613 pp., £35, August 2007, 978 0 19 820555 5
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... Nothing Dr Bew writes is without interest.’ The wearily Olympian judgment was delivered by a distinctly peeved F.S.L. Lyons, doyen of historians of modern Ireland, when faced 27 years ago with a short life of Charles Stewart Parnell which took implicit but cheeky issue with his own magnum opus on the Chief. The young Bew – Belfast-born and a graduate of People’s Democracy marches as well as of the Cambridge history faculty – had already published a radical marxisant version of the 1879-82 Irish Land War, stressing the only partly suppressed war of interests between large and small tenants as much as the struggle against the landlord oppressor, and casting a cold eye on the cloak of unity that nationalist historiography tried to throw over the enterprise ...

New Ways of Killing Your Father

Colm Tóibín, 18 November 1993

Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and English History 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 305 pp., £22.50, October 1993, 0 7139 9095 3
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... in our glorious past, and it was essential for our past to be glorious if our present, in what Roy Foster in his new book of essays calls ‘the disillusioned tranquillity of the Free State’, was to have any meaning. This was what our ancestors fought for; we had it now; it had to be good. At the launch of his book Thomas Pakenham sat on a podium at ...

Upper Ireland

Nicholas Canny, 16 March 1989

Modern Ireland 1600-1972 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 688 pp., £18.95, October 1988, 0 7139 9010 4
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... histories of Ireland seems insatiable and sales can match those of a moderately successful novel. Roy Foster’s Modern Ireland has exceeded such expectations. It has recorded sales in excess of 12,000 hardback copies on the Irish market alone since its publication in October 1988. Such an astonishing success is richly deserved. ...

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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... and political progress. It is the baffling, ‘fast-forward’ nature of these changes that Roy Foster seeks to capture in this pacey narrative, which brings his 1988 history, Modern Ireland 1600-1972, up to date. Rather than offer a straightforward narrative account, Foster tracks the transformation of ...

Moral Lepers

John Banville: Easter 1916, 15 July 2015

Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 433 pp., £10.99, May 2015, 978 0 241 95424 9
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... at least in the minds of its signatories, for five days before the rebellion was crushed. Yet as Roy Foster implies, the founding of a republic was not as clear-cut a goal for the precursors of the men of 1916, or even for the men, and women, of the War of Independence that broke out in 1919, as later nationalist piety would insist. It is startling to ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Ezra Pound in Italy, 23 October 2008

... celebrities of the past, including Ezra Pound and his friends. Drifting around it a few years ago, Roy Foster (LRB, 30 November 2000) thought Rapallo an ‘inescapably bourgeois’ place. He could find nothing to commemorate ‘the embarrassing Pound’ on the building in Via Marsala where EP and Dorothy took a top-floor apartment in 1925, but that’s ...

What he did

Frank Kermode, 20 March 1997

W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. I: The Apprentice Mage 
by R.F. Foster.
Oxford, 640 pp., £25, March 1997, 0 19 211735 1
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... large-scale biography of Yeats, died in 1983, and after some vicissitudes the task devolved on Roy Foster, the professor of Irish history at Oxford. He has had access to Lyons’s notes and transcripts, invaluable to a successor confronted, as he says, with ‘a vast and unfamiliar subject’. Vast it remains, but the unfamiliarity has clearly ...

What can the matter be?

Denis Donoghue, 5 April 1990

Ulster Politics: The Formative Years, 1868-86 
by B.M. Walker.
Ulster Historical Foundation/Institute of Irish Studies, 327 pp., £15, February 1990, 0 901905 40 2
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Ireland 1912-1985: Politics and Society 
by J.J. Lee.
Cambridge, 754 pp., £55, January 1990, 0 521 26648 3
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... in point, the walls of Derry were completed in 1618. Catholics, ‘a threatening majority’, as Roy Foster describes them in Modern Ireland 1600-1972 (1988), were not allowed to live in the town, so they clustered in the Bogside beyond the walls. On 12 August 1969 the (Protestant) Apprentice Boys held their customary triumphalist march through the ...

Old, Old, Old, Old, Old

John Kerrigan: Late Yeats, 3 March 2005

W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. II: The Arch-Poet 1915-39 
by Roy Foster.
Oxford, 822 pp., £16.99, March 2005, 0 19 280609 2
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... the play has tended to muffle its strangeness. It is the great achievement of the second volume of Roy Foster’s superb biography that it delivers us late Yeats in all his troublesome immediacy. Foster does this not just by cutting across the record with new facts from the archive – itself a considerable feat, given ...

Diary

Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday , 27 May 1993

... Tomalin on Coleridge, Anthony Burgess on Fielding, other reviews by Anita Brookner, Peter Conrad, Roy Foster and Hilary Mantel), and as the limits on the new paper’s resources became apparent I thought how hard it would be to put together pages of comparable stature. There was one solace: the Independent on Sunday would be run by clear-eyed, yet ...

Erasures

Colm Tóibín: The Great Irish Famine, 30 July 1998

... died in 1892, and she outlived him by forty years. Lady Gregory made herself useful to Yeats, as Roy Foster shows in his biography of the poet, because of her interest in folklore and her knowledge of the area around Coole and its people. ‘John Synge, I and Augusta Gregory, thought/All that we did, all that we said or sang/Must come from contact with ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: A City of Prose, 4 August 2005

... summer evenings, breathing the ‘parched air’, as she called it. In his biography of the poet, Roy Foster reports that ‘the flat at Woburn Buildings was scraped and repapered in an effort to remove insect life, though WBY still returned there for his Monday evening entertainments.’ It appears that Dorothy Richardson was never invited; she and ...

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