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Wild Colonial Girl

Essays on Edna O'Brien

Edited by Lisa Colletta and Maureen O'Connor

Publication Year: 2006

    Since the 1960 publication of her first novel, The Country Girls, award-winning Irish writer Edna O'Brien has been both celebrated and maligned. Praised for her lyrical prose and vivid female characters and attacked for her frank treatment of sexuality and alleged sensationalism, O'Brien and her work seem always to spawn controversy, including the past banning in Ireland of several of her works. O'Brien's attention to "women's" concerns such as sex, romance, marriage, and childbirth has often relegated her to critical neglect at best and, at worst, outright contempt. This essay collection promises to be a long overdue critical reevaluation and exciting rediscovery of her oeuvre.
    Wild Colonial Girl situates O'Brien in Irish contexts that allow for an appraisal of her significant contribution to a specifically Irish women's literary tradition while attesting to the potency of writing against patriarchal conventions. Each chapter's clear and detailed readings of O'Brien's fiction build a convincing case for her literary, political, and cultural importance, providing an invaluable critical guide for an enriched appreciation of O'Brien and her work.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

The editors wish to thank and acknowledge the authors of this volume of essays. While the exceptional quality of their work speaks for itself, what is less evident in the pages that follow is the unfailing patience and gracious professionalism that distinguished our every interaction with each one of them. We wish also...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-13

Since the publication of her first novel, The Country Girls (1960), Irish writer Edna O’Brien has been both celebrated and maligned. Hailed for her lyrical prose and vivid female characters and attacked for her frank treatment of sexuality and alleged sensationalism, O’Brien and her work seem always to have....

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“In the Name of the Mother . . .”: Reading and Revision in Edna O’Brien’s Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue

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pp. 14-30

Lynette Carpenter has noted that Edna O’Brien “has been criticized for writing the same story over and over, and for not writing the story she writes best. . . . In short, O’Brien’s literary reputation is anything...

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Hysterical Hooliganism: O’Brien, Freud, Joyce

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pp. 31-57

Edna O’Brien’s writing foregrounds women’s psychological struggles with social institutions that wish to contain women in limited spheres and overarticulate their sexual roles. It is woman’s burden to represent herself as the patriarchy wishes...

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Edna O’Brien’s “Love Objects”

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pp. 58-77

In 1984, Edna O’Brien saw her major theme as being “loss as much as . . . love. Loss is every child’s theme because by necessity the child loses its mother and its bearings . . . so my central theme is loss—loss of love, loss of self, loss of...

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Edna O’Brien and the Lives of James Joyce

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pp. 78-91

As if writing about Edna O’Brien writing about James Joyce were not sufficiently disjunctive, one finds the topic of such an examination comes imbedded in an imaginative context that requires immediate digression to comprehend....

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Godot Land and Its Ghosts: The Uncanny Genre and Gender of Edna O’Brien’s “Sister Imelda”

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pp. 92-109

For a short story such as Edna O’Brien’s “Sister Imelda” the meanings of the text are as plural as are the traces followed by any patient reader of detective stories such as those by Italo...

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Blurring Boundaries, Intersecting Lives: History, Gender, and Violence in Edna O’Brien’s House of Splendid Isolation

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pp. 110-142

By the time House of Splendid Isolation was published in 1994, Edna O’Brien had a well-deserved reputation as an author who passionately and eloquently addressed women’s needs and desires for liberation and autonomy, particularly in sexual matters....

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On the Side of Life: Edna O’Brien’s Trilogy of Contemporary Ireland

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pp. 143-164

The plot of Wild Decembers, Edna O’Brien’s third and final novel in her recent trilogy of life in modern Ireland, might seem far-fetched, if the very horror she describes had not occurred and, with almost eerie synchronicity, been reported in the press within weeks of the book’s publication in 1999. The...

Contributors

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pp. 165-168

Index

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pp. 169-175


E-ISBN-13: 9780299216337
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299216344

Publication Year: 2006