Form and Content

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Mirror in My House combines six books previously published: I Knock at the Door (1939), Pictures in the Hallway (1942), Drums Under the Window (1945), Inishfallen, Fare Thee Well (1949), Rose and Crown (1952), and Sunset and Evening Star (1954). The books tell the significant events in O’Casey’s life from his birth in Dublin until roughly 1954, near the end of his life. The term autobiography should, however, be used with caution for a number of reasons. First, the books are less a continuous narrative than a series of “vignettes” (O’Casey’s term), vivid scenes often dramatized with abundant dialogue; for many, James Joyce’s term “epiphanies” is appropriate: The vignette may not represent a crucial event in O’Casey’s life but may rather reveal something about him or his situation. (At one point O’Casey seems to have projected the work as a series of short stories.) Aspects of O’Casey’s life may be either played down (for example, his support of the Soviet Union) or blown up (his literary quarrels) beyond what the reader might consider their real importance. A good example of his subjective approach is his treatment of the Easter Rising of 1916. It records, first, O’Casey’s abortive attempt to advise the Irish Volunteers on military strategy; then comes a description of looting by the slum dwellers; then follows an account of O’Casey’s own experiences as a neutral taken into temporary custody by the British; and finally O’Casey offers an imaginative account of the execution of some of the rebels (which he could not have...

(The entire section is 661 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Ayling, Ronald, ed. Sean O’Casey: Modern Judgements, 1969.

Krause, David. Sean O’Casey and His World, 1976.

Lowery, Robert G. Sean O’Casey’s Autobiographies: An Annotated Index, 1983.

Lowery, Robert G., ed. Essays on Sean O’Casey’s Autobiographies, 1981.

O’Connor, Garry. Sean O’Casey: A Life, 1988.

Scrimgeour, James R. Sean O’Casey, 1978.