John-Paul McCarthy: Writers who speak volumes about our past and present
IN Breandan O Buachalla's famous study of Irish Jacobite poetry, he explained that the Gaelic poets were very taken by a French author called La Popelimere who said all good writing had three traits: "stil", style, "insint leanunach", a continuous thread, and "fealsunacht", philosophy. These pegs will do nicely as we divvy up the books of 2012.
On the question of style, Robert Tobin's handsome book on Hubert Butler carries off the gold. Fintan O'Toole and John Banville have pushed Butler hard in recent times, but Tobin is the real deal.
The Minority Voice: Hubert Butler and Southern Irish Protestantism, 1900-1991 is elegantly written and packed with resonant arguments.