One of Sergei Prokofiev’s most famous compositions is Peter and the Wolf (1936). Natalya Sats, then director of the Moscow Musical Theatre for Children, had commissioned this work to introduce children to some of the instruments of the orchestra, and to classical music. Prokofiev had met Sats while taking his […]
Manchán Magan, Thirty-Two Words for Field (Dublin: Gill Books, 2020). This acclaimed book ostensibly celebrates the Irish-speaking community in Co. Kerry, where the author spent his holidays as a young man. He explores the rich vocabulary of traditional Irish-speakers and their words for natural phenomena: the weather, the sea, plants, […]
Just as it did with St Patrick’s Day, the state has decided to take over the 1st of February—the beginning of spring, traditionally known as St Brigid’s Day—and convert it into another cheap stunt for promoting tourism and “selling Ireland.” (The only wonder is that there’s anything left to sell.) […]
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.
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 […]
■ 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 […]
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 […]
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.
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
“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 […]
■ 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 […]
■ Liam O’Flaherty, The Martyr, Nuascéalta, 2020 With this sensational republication of The Martyr, Nuascéalta completes its epic task of restoring the remaining three major O’Flaherty novels banned by the Irish state. The other two novels reprinted were the first book to be banned under the Censorship of Publications Act […]
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 […]
■ 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]