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Irish Women Writers

New Critical Perspectives


Edited By Elke D'hoker, Raphaël Ingelbien and Hedwig Schwall

After a decade in which women writers have gradually been given more recognition in the study of Irish literature, this collection proposes a reappraisal of Irish women’s writing by inviting dialogues with new or hitherto marginalised critical frameworks as well as with foreign and transnational literary traditions. Several essays explore how Irish women writers engaged with European themes and traditions through the genres of travel writing, the historical novel, the monologue and the fairy tale. Other contributions are concerned with the British context in which some texts were published and argue for the existence of Irish inflections of phenomena such as the New Woman, suffragism or vegetarianism. Further chapters emphasise the transnational character of Irish women’s writing by applying continental theory and French feminist thinking to various texts; in other chapters new developments in theory are applied to Irish texts for the first time. Casting the efforts of Irish women in a new light, the collection also includes explorations of the work of neglected or emerging authors who have remained comparatively ignored by Irish literary criticism.


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Niamh Hehir


‘I have grown inside words/Into a state of unbornness’: Evocations of a Pre-linguistic Space of Meaning in Medbh McGuckian’s Poetry The poem ‘Open Rose’, from Medbh McGuckian’s 1991 collection, Marconi’s Cottage, contains many strategies and elements that are familiar devices in McGuckian’s poetry. For example, each verse constructs its own specific image or meaning that can only be fully understood in relation to the other verses of the poem. The poem then functions as a relative exploration of a particular theme where each element in the poem builds on, connects or contrasts with the other elements in the poem: Open Rose The moon is my second face, her long cycle Still locked away. I feel rain Like a tried-on-dress, I clutch it Like a book to my body. His head is there when I work, It signs my letters with a question mark; His hands reach for me like rationed air. Day by day I let him go Till I become a woman, or even a less, An incompletely furnished house That came from a dif ferent century Where I am a guest at my own childhood. I have grown inside words Into a state of unbornness, An open rose on all sides Has spoken as far as it can. 58 Niamh Hehir ‘Open Rose’ is replete with images and unlikely juxtapositions that create meaning through the tension of a metaphorical misfit. The meaning of the lines ‘like a book to my body’, for instance, is derived in part through...

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