Charles Dickens was born in 1812 into the impoverished petty bourgeoisie. His father was imprisoned for debt, and financial circumstances forced the young Charles to leave school at the age of twelve and to work a ten-hour day in a blacking (shoe polish) factory. The adult Dickens’s first jobs were […]
■Tomás Mac Síomóin, The Gael Becomes Irish: An Unfinished Odyssey (Nuascéalta, 2020) It is difficult to imagine a deeper enslavement of a subject people than to deprive them of their language. Such a condition has a deep psychological effect, which causes the abnormal to seem normal. There is a pretence […]
Max Blumenthal, The Management of Savagery: How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump(London and New York: Verso, 2019).
THIS IS A valuable book, as it charts how the United States, since the late 1970s up until today, has deliberately funded and supported Islamist jihadists to obtain foreign-policy goals.
THANKS TO the current pandemic, Ireland was unable to publicly remember the Easter Rising of 1916, its aspirations for an independent socialist republic, its heroic leaders. Many of these leaders were poets and writers. Patrick Pearse’s poem “The Wayfarer” was written on the eve of his execution, in Kilmainham Gaol.
The beauty of the world hath made me sad, This beauty that will pass; Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk, Or little rabbits in a field at evening, Lit by a slanting sun,
A time that called for giants – Jenny FarrellDownload The great Italian painter and architect Raphael died 500 years ago, in April 1520. He lived at the time of the High Renaissance, one of the most progressive periods in history; as Engels put it, “it was the greatest progressive revolution […]
Call for submissions Culture Matters is taking an initiative in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis to compile a second anthology of working-class writing. We hope it will be one way for working people to creatively express their anxieties, experiences and thoughts about various aspects of their lives in these […]
The most famous, fabled and fêted Irish filí (poets) are male. The reasons lie clearly in patriarchal class society. All the more reason for us to seek out the female representatives of a skill that in the old Irish days was associated with prophesying or “seeing,” in fact the Irish […]
FRYDERYK CHOPIN was born on 22 February 1810 in Żelazowa Wola, near Warsaw, to a Polish mother and a French father. He grew up in Warsaw but left Poland in 1831, shortly before the Polish popular uprising against the tsarist oppressors. He moved to Paris, where he lived until his death, aged only thirty-nine, on 17 October 1849.
Ernst Barlach was born near Hamburg 150 years ago, on 2 January 1870. He was the most important German sculptor of the twentieth century. Bertolt Brecht said about his work: “His genius, meaning, ingenious craftsmanship, beauty without embellishment, stature without overstretching, harmony without smoothness, vitality without brutality make Barlach’s sculptures […]
■ Mick O’Reilly, From Lucifer to Lazarus: A Life on the Left (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2019) Mick O’Reilly’s recently launched book is a must-read for all young activists, as it records how many of the gains achieved and then taken for granted were won through hard struggle and tough battles, […]
Séamus Murphy, Having It Away: A story of Freedom, Friendship and IRA Jailbreak (Bray, Co. Wicklow: Castledermot Press, 2019; €10).
“Having it away” was a slang term in the English prisons of the 1950s for making an escape. It is the title of Séamus Murphy’s account of his imprisonment in Wakefield Prison, Yorkshire.
Jenny Farrell (editor), The Children of the Nation: An Anthology of Working People’s Poetry from Contemporary Ireland (Newcastle upon Tyne: Culture Matters, 2019).
This anthology deals with the identity of the working class, the marginalised, people in precarious employment, the unemployed, the homeless. The title of the collection recalls the pledge made in the Proclamation of 1916.
Gabriel Rosenstock, Walk with Gandhi / Bóthar na Saoirse, illustrated by Masood Hussain (Dublin: Gandhi 150 Ireland, 2019, paperback, hardback, and Ebook).
This is a beautiful book to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on 2 October 1869. The book is a collection of haiga—a style of Japanese painting often accompanied by a haiku poem.
Great Carthage waged three wars. It was still powerful after the first, habitable still after the second. Gone without trace after the third.—Bertolt Brecht (1951).
Samuel Backett died thirty years ago, on 22 December 1989. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature fifty years ago, in 1969.
Arguably Beckett’s most famous play is Waiting for Godot. Typically, when this play today is presented today the comedy of it is emphasised, as is its “absurdist” label, suggesting that life is meaningless. Beckett had moved permanently to France in the late 1930s.
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 […]
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 […]