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“The right of the people of Ireland to the […] unfettered control of Irish destinies”: Edna O'Brien, Willful Subjects, and Counter-narratives of the Republic

Fiona McCann
p. 69-84

Abstracts

This article explores Edna O'Brien's more recent fiction and demonstrates how Ireland's most prolific writer continues to systematically expose the ways in which oppression and repression operate in contemporary Ireland. Using Sara Ahmed's work on “willful subjects”, I aim to show how O’Brien enshrines willfulness within the very aesthetics of her texts and, in so doing, offers a counter-narrative of the Republic.

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Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on November 2018.

Outline

Willful subjects and dissensus
Willful bodies
Willfulness as “political craft”

First lines

Since she published her first novel, The Country Girls, in 1960, Edna O'Brien has devoted a considerable amount of attention to exposing the failure of the contemporary Irish State to live up to the ideals expressed in the Poblacht na hÉireann proclamation of 1916. She specifically reveals the various ways in which institutions (the State, the Church) and politics (nationalist, revisionist, gender) impinge upon “the right of the people of Ireland to the […] unfettered control of Irish destinies”, one of the fundamental rights stated in the Proclamation. There is, perhaps, no Irish writer who has devoted so much of her/his work to uncovering the hypocrisy endemic to late 20th and early 21st century Ireland. And, as Patricia Coughlan has pointed out, the ways in which O'Brien has been “attacked, critiqued, yet simultaneously portrayed as flagrant” are indicative of her role as “transgressive public figure”. This w...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Fiona McCann, « “The right of the people of Ireland to the […] unfettered control of Irish destinies”: Edna O'Brien, Willful Subjects, and Counter-narratives of the Republic », Études irlandaises, 41-2 | 2016, 69-84.

Electronic reference

Fiona McCann, « “The right of the people of Ireland to the […] unfettered control of Irish destinies”: Edna O'Brien, Willful Subjects, and Counter-narratives of the Republic », Études irlandaises [Online], 41-2 | 2016, Online since 30 November 2018, connection on 26 June 2017. URL : http://etudesirlandaises.revues.org/4981 ; DOI : 10.4000/etudesirlandaises.4981

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About the author

Fiona McCann

Université Charles de Gaulle-Lille 3/Institut Universitaire de France

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Copyright

© Presses universitaires de Rennes

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