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Mary Hawthorne, 23 June 1994

The Seduction of Morality 
by Tom Murphy.
Little, Brown, 224 pp., £15.99, June 1994, 0 316 91059 7
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A Goat’s Song 
by Dermot Healy.
Harvill, 408 pp., £14.99, April 1994, 0 00 271049 8
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... Tom Murphy’s play Too Late for Logic centres on the response of a psychically disintegrated family to the death of one of its members. An oracular, disembodied voice-over gives the summation: ‘A group of porcupines on a cold winter’s day crowded close together to save themselves from freezing by their mutual warmth ...


Alison Light: In Portsmouth, 7 February 2008

... in its tight mesh of unpaved, filthy streets, courts, lanes and rows. I don’t know how William Murphy, a shoemaker born in the 1820s, and his wife, Lydia, survived the cholera epidemic of 1849, but they turn up thereafter in different lodgings, mostly on Albion Street, notorious for its beer-shops and brothels (one of their seven children was Flora, my ...

Karel Reisz Remembered

LRB Contributors, 12 December 2002

... than one generation of British film-makers, and what he did for the stage – Beckett, Pinter, Tom Murphy, Terence Rattigan – has changed the game for several more to come. You might say the drama in Karel Reisz’s life existed at quite a deep level, but it also existed in his conversation. At tables, in cars, in foyers, on the phone, Karel Reisz ...

Playboys of the GPO

Colm Tóibín, 18 April 1996

Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation 
by Declan Kiberd.
Cape, 719 pp., £20, November 1995, 0 224 04197 5
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... its past or to England, thus it is difficult for Kiberd to have much to say about John Banville or Tom Murphy or Derek Mahon. And there are other writers, such as John McGahern, to whom these old dreams and inventions mean nothing at all, or those who found or find them worthy merely of jokes and asides, such as Flann O’Brien or Paul Muldoon. Inventing ...

Cough up

Thomas Keymer: Henry Fielding, 20 November 2008

Plays: Vol. II, 1731-34 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Thomas Lockwood.
Oxford, 865 pp., £150, October 2007, 978 0 19 925790 4
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‘The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon’, ‘Shamela’ and ‘Occasional Writings’ 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Martin Battestin, with Sheridan Baker and Hugh Amory.
Oxford, 804 pp., £150
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... trade, was that of a professional author any purer? Although Fielding’s most enduring work, and Tom Jones (1749) especially, were the result of a painstaking commitment to the craft of writing, he always wanted to disguise the vulgarities of effort, and nowhere more than in the comedies and farces of the 1730s, eight of which appear in this volume of Thomas ...

Squidging about

Caroline Murphy: Camilla and the sex-motherers, 22 January 2004

Camilla: An Intimate Portrait 
by Rebecca Tyrrel.
Short Books, 244 pp., £14.99, October 2003, 1 904095 53 4
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... wasn’t happy about being the nation’s best-known cuckold; her children were teased. Her son, Tom, the Prince’s godson, ‘was forced to listen to other boys at school reading the creepiest sections of the transcript out loud’. Camilla herself received hate-mail and crank calls. According to a friend, ‘for a time she thought she was the most hated ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... of three now almost forgotten lesbian women: the American heiress and intellectual polymath Esther Murphy (1897-1962); Mercedes de Acosta (1893-1968), the Cuban-American Hollywood screenwriter, memoirist and seductress extraordinaire (Garbo and Dietrich and Isadora Duncan were among her conquests); and the brittle yet pioneering British fashion editor and ...

On the Sofa

David Thomson: ‘Babylon Berlin’, 2 August 2018

... and utility I could try to tell you that Babylon Berlin is a television mini-series created by Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries and Hendrik Handloegten. I looked up this information, and in theory it is possible that I could have extracted it from the show’s credit sequence – except that you can never quite read the credits: the lettering is small, and it ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Dunkirk’, 17 August 2017

... sea. The impression is enhanced by the fact that the heroic pilot’s role is handsomely filled by Tom Hardy, while the navy gets Kenneth Branagh, his eyes moist as he thinks of ‘home’, and ready to stay on after the evacuation to do what he can ‘for the French’. I imagine this line is meant to sound decent, even noble, but it comes across as ...

Gaelic Gloom

Colm Tóibín: Brian Moore, 10 August 2000

Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist 
by Denis Sampson.
Marino, 344 pp., IR£20, October 1998, 1 86023 078 4
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... treated in Irish writing. In the 1960s, playwrights such as Eugene McCabe in King of the Castle, Tom Murphy in A Whistle in the Dark and John B. Keane in The Field began to work on the mixture of violence and impotence in the Irish male psyche. And in the 1970s John McGahern published two novels, The Leavetaking and The Pornographer, which opened new ...


Nick Laird: Ulster Revisited, 28 July 2011

... the Omagh bombing in 1998. Any reader with an internet connection can identify Suspect A as Colm Murphy, who was found liable for the Omagh bombing and was convicted in the US for trying to buy a consignment of M60 machine guns for the INLA. A half-way house between truth and allegation, the report also describes nine other suspects and assigns them code ...

Green Martyrs

Patricia Craig, 24 July 1986

The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse 
edited by Thomas Kinsella.
Oxford, 423 pp., £12.50, May 1986, 0 19 211868 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry 
edited by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 415 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 571 13760 1
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Irish Poetry after Joyce 
by Dillon Johnston.
Dolmen, 336 pp., £20, September 1986, 0 85105 437 4
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... enrich another. ‘Rapparees, white-boys, volunteers, ribbonmen ...’: so runs a line in Richard Murphy’s poem ‘Green Martyrs’, one of Kinsella’s choices, naming bands of disaffected countrymen from the 17th century to the 19th, and getting the fullest flavour from these allusions; in a similar way, the phrase ‘hedge school’, with its ...
Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition 
by James Joyce, edited by Hans Walter Gabler, Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior.
Garland, 1919 pp., $200, May 1984, 0 8240 4375 8
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James Joyce 
by Richard Ellmann.
Oxford, 900 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 19 281465 6
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... thatd be something reversed arms muffled drums the poor horse walking behind in black L Boom and Tom Kernan that drunken little barrelly man that bit his tongue off falling down the mens W C ... But the point is lost on 694/773, where ‘Boom’ is printed as ‘Bloom’. In the Nausicaa chapter, 368/370, Bloom is watching Gerty McDowell on Sandymount ...

Life of Brian

Kevin Barry, 25 January 1990

No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O’Brien 
by Anthony Cronin.
Grafton, 260 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 246 12836 4
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... Joyce and Beckett, a position acknowledged by Joyce in his collocation of At Swim Two Birds with Murphy as Jean quirit and Jean qui pleure. But the aesthetic is also a fence around O’Nolan’s reservation. In 1973, in the only thorough essay we have on O’Nolan’s art, published in Miles: Portraits of Brian O’Nolan, J.C.C. Mays delineated the complex ...


Tom Paulin: Ted Hughes and the Hare, 29 November 2007

Letters of Ted Hughes 
edited by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 756 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 571 22138 7
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... to find a house where she could spend the winter (their difficult stay is recounted by Richard Murphy in his autobiography The Kick). Hughes’s letters appear cheerful and engaged and free of guilt. At this time, curiously, he concocts a plan to send poems out under one or two pseudonyms. He wants to invent a rival poet, ‘or perhaps two’, who will ...

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