Download Full Text (8.2 MB)

Publication Date



Since the appearance of her first novel, The Country Girls, in 1960—a book that undermined the nation’s ideal of innocent and pious Irish girlhood­—Edna O’Brien has provoked controversy in her native Ireland and abroad. Indeed, several of her early novels were condemned by church authorities and banned by the Irish government for their frank portrayals of sexual matters and the inner lives of women. Now an internationally acclaimed writer, O’Brien must be critically reassessed for a twenty-first century audience. Edna O’Brien and the Art of Fiction provides an urgent retrospective consideration of one of the English-speaking world’s best-selling and most prolific contemporary authors. Drawing on O’Brien’s fiction as well as archival material, and applying new theoretical approaches—including ecocritical and feminist new materialist readings—this study considers the pioneering and enduring ways O’Brien represents women’s experience, family relationships, the natural world, sex, creativity, and death, and her work’s long anticipation of contemporary movements such as #metoo.


Edna O'Brien, Irish women's writing, Ecofeminism, gender studies, women's studies, contemporary fiction, death, sex, family, The Country Girls, #MeToo, #MeToo movement, feminist, Ireland, Country Girl, Time and Tide, Wild Decembers, House of Splendid Isolation


Copyright © 2022 by Maureen O’Connor All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Please contact Bucknell University Press, Hildreth-Mirza Hall, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837-2005. The only exception to this prohibition is “fair use” as defined by U.S. copyright law.


text, 180 pages





Edna O'Brien and the Art of Fiction