Edna O'Brien World Literature Analysis
O’Brien’s recurring themes, her stylistic experimentation with received forms and narrative stances in the pronouns used, and her success in communicating that an Irish microcosm has a universal significance are all clearly present in Mother Ireland, the most accessible and instructive work with which to make O’Brien’s literary acquaintance. This personal response to her dear native land is not at all likely to be promoted by the Irish Tourist Board. Her Irishness, however, is something of which O’Brien is proud: “It’s a state of mind,” she claims. She is not, however, blind to Ireland’s faults, appreciating that there must be something “secretly catastrophic” about a country that so many of its people leave. After an iconoclastic opening chapter on Irish history, with its uncanonized patron saint, Saint Patrick, and its paunchy Firbolgs, Mother Ireland continues with six chapters in which O’Brien sketches her dominant themes: loneliness and the search for love; the longing for adventure (often sexual); the repressive Irish Roman Catholic Church and rural society; the constraints of family ties, particularly as they involve a martyred mother and her daughter; and the courageous hopelessness with which life at best must be lived.
It would be a melancholy prospect indeed for her almost-always female protagonists (“Clara,” from her short-story collection A Rose in the Heart, has one of O’Brien’s very...
(The entire section is 4350 words.)
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