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Thanks, capitalism!

Thanks, capitalism. You started off all right and all, but I’m afraid you have to leave! You’ve eaten, binned or hidden all the food, you’ve drunk all the drink or poured it down the sink, you’ve blocked all the toilets and used up all the paper. You’ve left the taps […]

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Rembrandt: His times and his art

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was one of the greatest Enlightenment painters. He died 350 years ago this month at the age of sixty-three. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the Flemish cloth trade had developed into the strongest competitor of Florentine cloth-makers and traders, giving rise to a growing Dutch […]

Culture

Peasant Bruegel

The greatest of the sixteenth-century Dutch realists is without doubt Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Born about 1525, Bruegel died 450 years ago, on 5 September 1569. His lifetime coincides with the struggle of the Netherlands against Spanish domination. At that time it included Belgium, Luxembourg and part of northern France […]

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The working class becomes the subject of art

Courbet painted The Stone-Breakers in his home town of Ornans, in eastern France, in 1849. He was thirty years old. Marx and Engels had published the Communist Manifesto the previous year, which stated as its opening fanfare: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” and “Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other—Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.” This is the defining insight of the middle of the nineteenth century.

Culture History

Moving statues

Earlier this year there were attacks on Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery in London. Around Europe since the fall of the Soviet Union there have been attempts to destroy or remove any statues or other monuments commemorating those who fought fascism during the Second World War, or previously in […]

Culture History

Renaissance man

Leonardo da Vinci, the oldest of the Italian High Renaissance artists, died five hundred years ago, on 2 May 1519. Leonardo was born on 15 April 1452 near the village of Vinci, from which he takes his name. His mother, Caterina, the daughter of a poor farmer, worked as a […]

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Pete Seeger on his 100th birthday

There are few people more famous in the political song movement than Pete Seeger. Along with his contemporaries Paul Robeson and Woody Guthrie, Seeger represented the might of song in highlighting the common cause, strengthening courage, and inspiring resistance. Song was their weapon in this struggle for a fair, equal […]

Culture History

A history of working-class writing

■ Michael Pierse (ed.), A History of Irish Working-Class Writing (Cambridge University Press, 2018). This is a book to be welcomed. It is the first study of such scope, attempting, as it does, to present and analyse the entire body of Irish working-class literature. It begins with the first writings […]

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Hollywood cemetery

■ Liam O’Flaherty, Hollywood Cemetery: A Vision of the World to Come (Nuascéalta, 2019). The veteran film-maker Bob Quinn will launch this new edition of Liam O’Flaherty’s novel Hollywood Cemetery, long out of print, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday 10 April at Galway City Library. Published in London in 1935 […]