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The First Calamity

Christopher Clark: July, 1914, 29 August 2013

The War That Ended Peace 
by Margaret MacMillan.
Profile, 656 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 1 84668 272 8
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July 1914: Countdown to War 
by Sean McMeekin.
Icon, 461 pp., £25, July 2013, 978 1 84831 593 8
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... and shocks to the international system. Margaret MacMillan’s The War That Ended Peace and Sean McMeekin’s July 1914 both bear the imprint of these perspectival shifts. They are both attentive to the play of contingency in crises that involved multilateral interactions among numerous sovereign actors. They both have interesting things to say about ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... than he was; and Bram Stoker and George Bernard Shaw, who were hardly more than clerks. And then Sean O’Casey who was poor and nearly blind. All of them baptised into the wholly un-Roman and highly Protestant church. And none of them believed a word of it except poor Lady Gregory, who hoped for heaven. It must be fun not believing in anything, and having ...

Soft Cop, Hard Cop

Seamus Deane, 19 October 1995

Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 355 pp., £18.95, May 1995, 1 85984 932 6
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... an exercise in violence. It was this paranoia that left Ireland susceptible, in Burke’s view, to French revolutionary infection and made the removal of the Ascendancy a political priority. Eagleton’s fourth chapter, ‘Changing the Question’, which is a powerful analysis of the dialogue of the deaf between England and Ireland after the Union, might have ...

Hiss and Foam

Anne Diebel: Tana French, 26 September 2019

The Wych Elm 
by Tana French.
Penguin, 528 pp., £6.99, September 2019, 978 0 241 37953 0
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... thing I couldn’t bear,’ he realises later, ‘was myself, whatever that had become.’ Tana French has gained a following over the past decade for her riveting series of police procedurals, the Dublin Murder Squad series. She has been celebrated as a stylish genre defier, in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith and Richard Price – and her books ...

Heartlessness is not enough

Graham Hough, 21 May 1981

Loitering with Intent 
by Muriel Spark.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £6.50, May 1981, 0 370 30900 6
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Burnt Water 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Margaret Peden.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, January 1981, 0 436 16763 8
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The Leaves on Grey 
by Desmond Hogan.
Picador, 119 pp., £1.50, April 1981, 0 330 26287 4
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Children of Lir 
by Desmond Hogan.
Hamish Hamilton, 136 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 241 10608 7
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Walking naked 
by Nina Bawden.
Macmillan, 220 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 333 31304 6
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... message not much changed. Tolstoy is an English writer to the English, a German to the Germans, French to the French: yet we do not doubt that we are reading the same Tolstoy. The aggressively autochthonous Joyce has become one of the culture-heroes of international Modernism. But there are areas that are more resistant ...

John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 20 September 2017

... at all. His good fortune, he wrote in The View from Paris, his collection of essays on postwar French intellectuals, was to have entered on his professional life in the mid-1960s when Sartre was ceding the territory to Roland Barthes; when, as John put it, ‘the first rustlings of Literary Theory’ – he gave it capital letters – ‘were to be ...

Hate, Greed, Lust and Doom

Sean O’Faolain, 16 April 1981

William Faulkner: His Life and Work 
by David Minter.
Johns Hopkins, 325 pp., £9.50, January 1981, 0 8018 2347 1
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... symbol de Gaulle marching down the Champs-Elysées at the head of the victorious Allied troops, French students might have said anything in praise of America. Something in between? Perhaps a lost star wandering high among the fleets of stars, seeking, losing, finding his proper station from which to view and mark that postage stamp of earth, as he called ...

Diary

Christopher Prendergast: Piss where you like, 17 March 2005

... the small hours, usually ending with a round of Irish rebel songs, lead by the melodious tenor of Sean Malarkey, a shy man who had to be prevailed on to sing. One night he regaled us with an anti-colonial number that included the line ‘Out, out, ye Saxon dogs’. An Englishman called Don Griffin, who, like my father at the time, worked as a guard for ...

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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... throw over the enterprise. He would go on to write critiques both of the modern Irish state in the Sean Lemass era and of power relations in Northern Ireland (in collaboration with other figures from Northern Ireland’s leftist intelligentsia), to redefine the attempted politics of reconciliation in the Edwardian era and to continue the story of land struggle ...

With Bit and Bridle

Matthew Kelly: 18th-Century Ireland, 5 August 2010

Eighteenth-Century Ireland: The Isle of Slaves 
by Ian McBride.
Gill and Macmillan, 563 pp., £19.99, October 2009, 978 0 7171 1627 0
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... Catholic and absolutist, landed at Kinsale on the south coast of Ireland with a substantial French force. He had fled England a few months before when William and Mary had been declared joint sovereigns – the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’. In April, the House of Commons responded by voting for war with France. Initially, that war, which would ...

Your mission is to get the gun

Theo Tait: Raoul Moat, 30 March 2016

You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] 
by Andrew Hankinson.
Scribe, 204 pp., £12.99, February 2016, 978 1 922247 91 9
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... visited, camping out in the corner of a field with Ness and another friend, Qhuram Awan, known as Sean, who he unconvincingly claimed were his hostages. On Saturday afternoon he called 999 to declare war on Northumbria Police, accusing the force of persecuting him. Soon afterwards, he shot PC David Rathband, a traffic policeman, at a roundabout on the ...

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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... proved a great man; de Valera, a great man indeed, though limited in the range of his vision; and Sean Lemass, a modest man who tried to drag Ireland into the 20th century and is honoured for the attempt. The five hundred pages in which the political and economic history of modern Ireland is narrated don’t claim any particular novelty. The events are the ...

What’s Left?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: The Russian Revolution, 29 March 2017

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution 
by China Miéville.
Verso, 358 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 78478 280 1
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The Russian Revolution 1905-1921 
by Mark D. Steinberg.
Oxford, 388 pp., £19.99, February 2017, 978 0 19 922762 4
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Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 
by S.A. Smith.
Oxford, 455 pp., £25, January 2017, 978 0 19 873482 6
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The Russian Revolution: A New History 
by Sean McMeekin.
Basic, 496 pp., $30, May 2017, 978 0 465 03990 6
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Historically Inevitable? Turning Points of the Russian Revolution 
by Tony Brenton.
Profile, 364 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 78125 021 1
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... century. Its practical impact on the world was ‘far more profound and global’ than that of the French Revolution a century earlier: for ‘a mere thirty to forty years after Lenin’s arrival at the Finland Station in Petrograd, one third of humanity found itself living under regimes directly derived from the [revolution] … and Lenin’s organisational ...

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 October 1938 – in his first outing as Flann O’Brien – he intervened in a debate between Sean O’Faolain and Frank O’Connor on ‘Ideals for an Irish Theatre’, in the letters pages of the Irish Times. The spat was self-consciously intellectual, with O’Connor arguing for a return to ‘peasant quality’ and O’Faolain in favour of importing ...

Demented Brothers

Declan Kiberd: William Trevor, 8 March 2001

The Hill Bachelors 
by William Trevor.
Viking, 245 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 0 670 89256 4
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... in Ireland has made an unexpected comeback. Earlier generations – that of Frank O’Connor and Sean O’Faolain and, before them, of George Moore and James Joyce – had established it as the quintessential genre for a society still in the process of inventing itself. If the novel dealt with established societies such as England or France, the theory ...

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