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Irish Women Writers

New Critical Perspectives

Series:

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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Christina Morin

Extract

Undermining Morality? National Destabilisation in The Wild Irish Girl and Corinne ou L’Italie Shortly after the publication of The Wild Irish Girl (1806), a vitriolic attack on the novel’s author, Sydney Owenson, appeared in the Dublin daily news- paper, The Freeman’s Journal. Signed by ‘M. T.’, a pseudonymic front for John Wilson Croker, the critique voiced outrage at Owenson’s authorship:1 [C]onscious that her merits have been over-rated, and her arguments over-praised […] I accuse Miss OWENSON of having written bad novels, and worse poetry – vol- umes without number, and verses without end – nor does my accusation rest upon her want of literary excellence – I accuse her of attempting to vitiate mankind – of attempting to undermine morality by sophistry – and that under the insidious mask of virtue, sensibility and truth. Such are the charges, which I am daring enough to bring forward, unawed by a host of treacherous sentimentalists. (Croker 1806) Acting as, in ef fect, the mouthpiece of Dublin Castle, Croker aptly expressed the danger Owenson and her hugely popular national tales encapsulated. Although Croker’s attack specifically singled out Owenson’s first novel, St. Clair, or, the Heiress of Desmond (1803), it was also clearly inf luenced by The Wild Irish Girl, ‘a few observations’ on which the author promises in due course (Croker 1806). The most (in)famous of Owenson’s national tales, The Wild Irish Girl had ostensibly finished on a note of optimism, presenting the marriage between the Irish princess, Glorvina, and her young English lover, Horatio Mortimer,...

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