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
■ 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 […]
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
■ 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 […]
The last of Liam O’Flaherty’s banned novels to see the light
■ 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Putting ordinary people at the heart of the story – 150th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens
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 […]
The management of savagery
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.
A valuable source for young activists
■ 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, […]
The story of a lifer
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.
A first anthology of working people’s poetry
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.
Walking with Gandhi
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.
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 […]
■ 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 […]