Culture

Culture Latest

John Keats: A revolutionary romantic

George Bernard Shaw wrote: “Keats achieved the very curious feat of writing a poem of which it may be said that if Karl Marx can be imagined writing a poem instead of a treatise on Capital, he would have written Isabella.” The 200th anniversary of Keats’s death this month is an opportunity to celebrate this revolutionary romantic.

Culture Ireland

Exiles – Dónall Mac Amhlaigh

Dónall Mac Amhlaigh Exiles. Translated by Mícheál Ó hAodha (Parthian, 2020) Awareness of working-class literature is only slowly growing in Ireland. This is not because it has not so far existed – far from it. Working-class people have known and cherished their tradition for a long time, as a source […]

Culture History Ireland

From the Plough to the stars

■ From the Plough to the Stars: An Anthology of Working People’s Prose from Contemporary Ireland “The cooks, the cleaners, the porters: Unsung heroes on the frontline,” the Irish Times declared in early May 2020, suddenly recognising that a society cannot function without the working class, for just a brief […]

Culture History

Beethoven and the Ode to Joy

Like few other composers, Beethoven expresses the will for freedom, the democratic longing of the people. His music is the continuation of the French Revolution through the means of art; his Ninth Symphony is a hymn to the humanist utopia of the equality of all humankind. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony The […]

Culture History

Engels and marriage

FRIEDRICH ENGELS, whose 200th birthday falls on 28 November, had a very personal connection with Ireland. Soon after being sent to help run the family textile factory in Manchester in 1842 he met twenty-year-old Mary Burns, daughter of an Irish dyer. Engels’s friend the revolutionary German poet Georg Weerth wrote a poem about Mary after he met the couple.

Culture

Setting our sights low

FOR ANYONE in the Anglophone world with an interest in Marx or political economy, David Harvey is probably a figure who needs no introduction. The British professor, who celebrated his 85th birthday on 31 October, is one of the most prominent theorists and spokespersons of the contemporary Western left, whose studies of Marx’s Capital

Culture

War on women

“Cogadh ar Mhná” [war on women], a documentary that TG4 broadcast at 9:30 p.m. on 23 September, describes how sexual violence was used against women during the War of Independence and the following Civil War. More heartbreaking are the words of the women themselves, women who often didn’t have the […]

Culture

Communist lives

■ Francis Devine and Patrick Smylie (editors), Left Lives in Twentieth-Century Ireland, vol. 3: Communist Lives, Dublin: Umiskin Press, 2020. The Communist Party of Ireland will celebrate a hundred years of Irish communism in 2021. This book is a welcome contribution to the centenary of the party. After the counter-revolutions […]

Culture

The IRA and the Nazis

In July 1940, after the fall of France and with a German invasion of Britain seeming imminent, the IRA leadership explained their attitude to the war in a public statement. In it they made it clear that if German forces arrived in Ireland they would come “as friends and liberators […]

Culture

A voice raised against war

■ Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (1928) The First World War was described as “the war that will end war,” so great was the horror of this new, diabolical stage of industrial annihilation. We know today that, without seriously addressing the causes of war, or the […]

Culture

Writing at a time of plague

The Black Death was the most devastating pandemic ever recorded, resulting in the death of between 75 and 125 million people. It reached its peak in Europe between 1347 and 1351, having come on Italian merchant ships from Asia via the Silk Road. In fact the idea of quarantine originates […]

Culture

The Wasp Network

The film Wasp Network has recently arrived on Netflix. It tells the story of the heroes known as the Cuban Five who successfully infiltrated anti-communist terrorist groups in Miami. The Wasp Network (La Red Avispa) was a creation of Cuban intelligence to thwart the efforts of such groups as Alpha […]

Culture

An Irishwoman’s novel of revolutionaries

■ Ethel Voynich, The Gadfly(1897) Liam Mellows read this novel while awaiting his execution, along with the other condemned men imprisoned by the Irish Free State during the Civil War (1922–23) for opposing the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which gave Ireland dominion status within the British Empire, rather than establishing an independent […]

Culture

Power: Aude Lorde

The recent demonstrations that began in Minnesota following the murder of George Floyd by a white cop are not only a continuation of the past seven years of the Black Lives Matter movement but of decades of struggle by black people against a racist police force, which functions to uphold […]