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Irish Women Writers

New Critical Perspectives

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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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Faith Binckes and Kathryn Laing

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A Vagabond’s Scrutiny: Hannah Lynch in Europe The narrator of Hannah Lynch’s best-known work, Autobiography of a Child,1 describes herself both as ‘a born traveller’ and as ‘a hopeless wan- derer’ (1899: 134, 194). Although Lynch refuted suggestions that this novel was in any way autobiographical, the figure and perspective of the travel- ler, the wanderer and the vagabond feature in much of her writing. The predominance of this trope in her work, published between 1885 and her death in 1904, is deeply rooted in her own experience of growing up during a period in Ireland when class, religion and gender all contributed to a sense of exclusion and dif ference. She was born in Dublin in 1859; her Catholic middle-class upbringing was both intellectual and nationalist, generating political and literary contacts that would shape her later career. In addition, her position as a single woman with literary leanings and the need to make an income for herself (and possibly for her extended family) necessitated taking employment as a governess in and around Europe, which provided some of the sources of her travel writing.2 Hannah Lynch’s vagabondage began earlier, as she travelled from Dublin to attend a convent school in France (and possibly England 1 Lynch’s publications were all out of print, with the exception of her critical appraisal of George Meredith (George Meredith: A Study, 1891) reprinted in 2006, and Autobiography of a Child from which extracts have been selected for Jane Eyre: A Student Casebook to Issues,...

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