Edna O’Brien
Writing sex and nation
in Five Irish women
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The chapter considers the history of women in independent Ireland, up to the period of the emergence of Edna O’Brien in the early 1960s. It explores the representation of women in modern Irish literature since the time of W. B. Yeats and the Irish Literary Revival, outlining the rejection of the Revival in the work of James Joyce and other writers. It analyses Edna O’Brien’s creative response to these romantic (Yeatsian) and modernist (Joycean) traditions of Irish literature and pays detailed attention to O’Brien’s description of girlhood, romance, female sexuality, colonialism and violence. O’Brien is discussed in relation to the key works The country girls trilogy; her two volumes of memoir, Mother Ireland and The country girl; and some of her recent fiction.

Five Irish women

The second republic, 1960–2016

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