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Irish Autobiography

Stories of Self in the Narrative of a Nation

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Claire Lynch

Ireland has passed through numerous identity crises in the last century, keeping the meaning of Irishness in constant flux. This book explores how diverse writers have positioned their life stories within the wider narrative of the nation’s development. Examining the wealth of autobiographical texts written by Irish writers in the twentieth century, including W.B. Yeats, Tomás O’Crohan, Frank O’Connor, Brendan Behan, Frank McCourt and Nuala O’Faolain, the study highlights the plurality of Irish identity and the main characteristics which typify the genre of Irish autobiography.
In charting the social and cultural history of Ireland through the first-hand accounts of the country’s most celebrated writers, the author also identifies important overlaps between fiction and memory, finds intersections with folklore and the short story, and draws out relationships within and between texts. The book repositions the important and often overlooked genre of Irish autobiography by highlighting its importance within both Irish Studies and the field of Autobiography and by opening up the ways in which lives can be written and read.

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Contents

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Introduction The ‘Other Force’: Irish Autobiography in Context 1 Chapter One Ireland: Locating the ‘Cinderella Genre’ 7 Chapter Two ‘Ourland’: An Identity Shared is a Problem Halved 51 Chapter Three ‘I’ Land: The Self Alone in Independent Ireland 99 Chapter Four ‘Hireland’: Marketing the Irish Life Story 137 Epilogue 181 Notes 187 Bibliography 209 Index 225

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