Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature
Edited By Paddy Lyons and Alison O'Malley-Younger
These shifts in culture have given Irish literature the opportunity to look afresh at its own past and, thereby, new perspectives have also opened for Irish Studies. The contributors to this volume explore these new openings; the essays examine writings from both now and the past in the new frames afforded by new times.
Deirdre O’Byrne‘ One of themselves’: Class Divisions in Eilís Dillon’s Blood Relations and The Bitter Glass 233
‘One of themselves’: Class Divisions in Eilís Dillon’s Blood Relations and The Bitter Glass Deirdre O’Byrne Eilís Dillon wrote two historical novels directly concerned with the birth of the new Irish state. Blood Relations (1993), first published in 1977, deals with the War of Independence, and The Bitter Glass (Dillon, 1987), though published in 1958, deals with the historically later period of the Civil War. This article examines the depiction of class in both novels, which feature young upper-class women who, in the course of the narra- tive, must learn to value the Connemara people amongst whom they live as more than ‘ignorant peasants’ (Dillon, 1987: 205). However, the texts betray some authorial prejudices in the depiction of the working classes, and it is apparent that the narrative viewpoint is that of the priviliged group to which the author belonged. Dillon was born : into … an old Connaught family which produced several noteworthy nationalist figures …. Her … grandfather … was a minister in the first Dáil Éireann …. Her [uncle] … was executed for his part in the 1916 Rising. Her immediate family was intensely republican, and her father … was jailed for … Sinn Féin activities. This background greatly influenced her writing when she drew on family history to recreate the nation’s past and the traumas of the country’s march to nationhood. (O Ceirín, 1996: 64) As befits its title, family is an important theme in Blood Relations, but the ambiguity of the term is significant. Dillon’s text shows how the...
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