(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

O’Casey’s experiment in autobiography, Mirror in My House, consists of six separately published volumes. The project began in 1939 with the appearance of I Knock at the Door and continued through Pictures in the Hallway (1942), Drums Under the Windows (1945), Inishfallen, Fare Thee Well (1949), and Rose and Crown (1952), before concluding with Sunset and Evening Star (1954). As though to confirm the significance of the author’s Irish experiences, volumes 1 through 4 cover the first forty-six years of his life, from his birth to his departure from Ireland. His life in England up to 1953, roughly, is the subject of the two concluding volumes.

Some readers may be critical of Mirror in My House because it unequally divides attention between the two basic phases of O’Casey’s life. It might be thought more appropriate to reverse the work’s emphasis by concentrating less on the formative Dublin years and more on the period when O’Casey achieved international renown as a playwright and political notoriety because of his communist associations. Yet while critical opinion on the value and significance of Mirror in My House was divided as the individual volumes appeared, it is generally agreed that the overall project constitutes one of the more important literary autobiographies of the twentieth century.

One of the main difficulties of Mirror in My House is its experimental character. O’Casey’s original approach to autobiography has two surprising...

(The entire section is 643 words.)