I wish I could write lyrical poems, but I just write the way they come.
‘Ulysses’ is the greatest anti-racist text in the English language, and it challenges right from the beginning the vicious racism which lies near the foundations of the Irish Free State and of the Irish republic.
In my view the European culture carries a very heavy responsibility for the creation of Israel… it is a product of both British and Stalin’s anti- Semitism, but the British never faced their own complicity in its construction.
I do think culture is an argument, and that was part of the way I was brought up. People at a social occasion in Ireland will start shouting and arguing. When the Yeats family lived in Bedford Park, they had to go round to the neighbours to say, ‘You might think we are fighting, but this is the way we talk to each other.’
I don’t think the British carry a historical consciousness either.
Is the biographer an artist who can and should exist on equal terms with the dramatist, fiction writer and poet? The short and robust answer is, ‘Certainly not.’
Look, you’re either a Zionist or an anti-Zionist: there’s no middle way. Everyone who supports the state of Israel is a Zionist.
It’s ironic that early on in the war with Afghanistan, the Americans and the British were saying, ‘We recognise there must be a Palestinian state,’ then they rapidly forgot about it. I think history will show that that kind of amnesia will come back to haunt you.
I never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all.
My parents were Northern Ireland Labour party people. We read the ‘Guardian’ and the ‘New Statesman,’ listened to the BBC. The house was full of books. We didn’t get a television until ‘That Was The Week That Was’ started. There was nothing to do but read.