Edna O'Brien

Grace Eckley

1974
84 pages
ISBN 0-8387-7838-0
Contemporary Irish Writers

Edna O'Brien is another outstanding contribution to the Irish Writers Series. These monographs have been designed to treat in individual volumes the significant Anglo-Irish writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Studies will prove helpful to both literary scholars and to students of literature. When complete the series will constitute a significant history of modern Anglo-Irish literature, and will encompass discussions of more than 50 writers.

This volume records chronologically the development of the novelist Edna O'Brien through her background in County Clare, Ireland, and removal to Dublin and hence to England, where she became the author of nine books, four successful screenplays, and numerous television plays and short stories. She may be best known to Americans as the writer of the original screenplay for X, Y and Zee, which won for its star, Elizabeth Taylor, the 1972 David of Donatello statuette, Italy's top movie prize, as best foreign actress. Throughout this book, plot summaries and character analyses are supported by Miss O'Brien's comments made during interviews.

Dr. Eckley investigates, through the novels and short stories, dominant motifs of search for and disillusionment with romantic love, acquisition of independence and accompanying loneliness, and the inhibiting Irish parochial attitudes that conflict with self-development.

Since James Joyce wrote from the same landscape as Miss O'Brien and remains in her estimation the artist who has surpassed all others in the creative use of language, the influence of James Joyce in Edna O'Brien's work is traced.

Miss O'Brien's most recent novel, Night, departs from the earlier style of simple narrative and employs a modified stream-of-consciousness technique in the heightened, extremely colorful, and archaic language of County Clare.

About the author:

Grace Eckley was born in Alliance, Ohio, and received her Ph.D. from Kent State University. She is now Assistant Professor of English at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. She is married and has three sons. Articles reflecting her interest in Joyce and mythology have appeared in the James Joyce Quarterly, Eire-Ireland, Carleton Newsletter, Literary Monographs, and Modern Drama. She is also the author of two books, Benedict Kiely and Edna O'Brien, the latter a monograph in Bucknell University Press's Irish Writers Series.

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