The Tragic Hubris of Kipling’s ‘If—’
“Kipling’s morality is imperialist only to the extent that it is closely linked to a specific historical reality,” wrote Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist leader and translator of “If—,” from one of Mussolini’s prisons, “but there are lessons in the poem for any social group struggling for political power.”
July 3, 2019
Louis MacNeice’s Carrickfergus Revisited
“In the beginning was the Irish rain,” wrote Carrickfergus’s unsung poet-hero, Louis MacNeice. Like many of the poorer regions of Northern Ireland, the town today is in social and economic decline. “The tragic irony of life in Northern Ireland today,” the murdered journalist Lyra McKee wrote in 2016, “is that peace seems to have claimed more lives than war ever did.”
May 8, 2019
Decolonizing Commemoration: New War Art
Could it be that, in an age of high imperialism, there was genuine equality in war remembrance? Or was the idea that Britain and Empire fought shoulder to shoulder, as brothers-in-arms, to face a democracy in death, a projection back from our own time—itself a kind of airbrushing of history?
November 14, 2018
World War I Relived
“Life can only be understood backwards,” the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard observed, “but it must be lived forwards.” When we try to identify with people who did not know what happened next, we shed new light on them, and on what did happen.
November 8, 2018
Käthe Kollwitz, Witness to History
In Germany and elsewhere, many people wonder how it is possible to restore the stability of the old world while giving it a new foundation. Ever since the collapse of the old regime, Käthe Kollwitz has hoped that socialism would win the day, but now she is unable to ignore the realities of the situation.
October 15, 2018