i seem for some reason to have taken to reading books from the Middle outwards – or perhaps more accurately by opening them at random and taking pot luck.
For reasons too complicated to explain, I’m doing that with Thomas Pakenham’s history of the Boer War. To be honest, it is so vast that I would never be able to read it in any other way.
Similarly, I’ve been dipping an anthology of 150 years of the Irish Times. That is of interest because, until fairly recent times, the Irish Times was the paper of the Southern Irish Protestant community. If I have a root community, it is that.
Strange then, in the light of the controversy about the young Princess Elizabeth being filmed giving Hitler salutes to find similar material in the Irish Times. The paper reported a controversial essay which Conor Cruise O’Brien wrote in 1998 about the fascist leanings of the poet WB Yeats. He claimed that ‘such feelings were quite usual in the Irish Protestant middle class to which Yeats belonged.’
I well recall that Conor Cruise O’Brien was a regular contributor to the Irish Times, which i used to read. Far right wing theories abounded even from the 1930’s. Indeed, it was common in Britain at least for the intelligentsia to belong to the Communist Party of Great Britain, to counter the rise in fascism. I stopped reading the Irish Times many years ago in favour of the Irish Independant. I’m still pondering whether it was due to editorial change or change within me.
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