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Sacred Peter

Norman MacCaig, 19 June 1980

Sacred Keeper 
by Peter Kavanagh.
Goldsmith Press, 403 pp., £4.40, May 1979, 0 904984 48 6
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Dead as Doornails 
by Anthony Cronin.
Poolbeg Press, 201 pp., £1.75, May 1980, 9780905169316
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The Macmillan Dictionary of Irish Literature 
edited by Robert Hogan.
Macmillan, 815 pp., £2, February 1980, 0 333 27085 1
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... My acceptance of an offer to review the Kavanagh book landed me in a mess of puzzles. Peter Kavanagh, the poet’s brother, starts straight off, sentence one, by announcing: ‘When I write about Patrick Kavanagh I write as a partisan, as his alter ego, almost as his evangelist.’ And if you think that’s a dubious basis for a biography, what about this? As far as possible I shall avoid writing of him as a brother since my interest in him was mainly as a poet ...

Daisy Chains

Emma Hogan: Sappho 1900, 20 May 2021

No Modernism without Lesbians 
by Diana Souhami.
Head of Zeus, 464 pp., £9.99, February, 978 1 78669 487 4
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... Little Review, serialised the novel.) Bryher financially supported her lover H.D. and her husband Robert McAlmon, who published Mina Loy, Djuna Barnes and Ernest Hemingway. There is also the suggestion, never quite substantiated by Souhami, that the way these women lived, their promiscuity and outsized influence, could itself be considered uniquely ...

In Praise of Barley Brew

E.S. Turner: Combustible Belloc, 20 February 2003

Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc 
by Joseph Pearce.
HarperCollins, 306 pp., £20, July 2002, 0 00 274095 8
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... yet consigned to the skip two excellent earlier Lives, A.N. Wilson’s Hilaire Belloc (1984) and Robert Speaight’s The Life of Hilaire Belloc (1957). If a debunker were needed for this wittily bellicose (‘Bellocose’, Wilson suggests) Catholic author of more than 150 publications (which smacks of thraldom to the work ethic some call the Protestant ...

Competition is for losers

David Runciman: Silicon Valley Vampire, 23 September 2021

The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power 
by Max Chafkin.
Bloomsbury, 400 pp., £25, September, 978 1 5266 1955 6
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... to global domination. He is the man who bankrupted Gawker, the online gossip site, by funding Hulk Hogan’s libel action, fulfilling a decade-long vendetta that started after Gawker outed Thiel as gay. Though himself a Stanford graduate, Thiel set up a fellowship programme that pays smart kids to skip college and live their dreams with him in Silicon ...

‘What is your nation if I may ask?’

Colm Tóibín: Jews in Ireland, 30 September 1999

Jews in 20th-century Ireland: Refugees, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust 
by Dermot Keogh.
Cork, 336 pp., £45, March 1998, 9781859181492
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... of Nations. But there was always a difficult undertow. Among de Valera’s greatest supporters was Robert Briscoe, a Jew who later became Lord Mayor of Dublin (as did his son Ben Briscoe), but he was never a minister in any Fianna Fáil government because of what Keogh calls ‘an undercurrent of hostility towards Jews in the country which even de Valera ...

Short Cuts

Peter Geoghegan: On Greensill, 6 May 2021

... hired by Greensill while working for the civil service. The former Met Police chief Lord Bernard Hogan-Howe was a paid adviser for Greensill while he was acting as a non-executive director of the Cabinet Office. Francis Maude, another member of the House of Lords, has also been drawn into the scandal: he was Cabinet Office minister when the doors of ...

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