Blighted Beginnings: Coming of Age in Independent Ireland

Overview

"Blighted Beginnings: Coming of Age in Independent Ireland offers a much needed examination of the manner in which narratives of emerging selfhood were used persistently by authors in order to critique and reform problems that have plagued postindependence Ireland." "The study begins by examining the struggles peculiar to the generation that either came of age during the Irish revlutionary period or immediately after independence whose individual identityformation coincides with the birth of the Free State. It then looks at how the freedoms of

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Blighted Beginnings: Coming of Age in Independent Ireland

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Overview

"Blighted Beginnings: Coming of Age in Independent Ireland offers a much needed examination of the manner in which narratives of emerging selfhood were used persistently by authors in order to critique and reform problems that have plagued postindependence Ireland." "The study begins by examining the struggles peculiar to the generation that either came of age during the Irish revlutionary period or immediately after independence whose individual identityformation coincides with the birth of the Free State. It then looks at how the freedoms of Anglo-Irish children were circumscribed by the traditions of their class, the inheritance of property, and by sectarian prejudice, thereby impeding their maturity, and how the Big House tradition is used both to redress the privilege and colonial abuses of their class and respond to the culture of resentment that complicated Anglo-Irish life after independence. This study also analyzes how religious vocations, widely encouraged in Ireland, defied the expectations of maturity by insisting upon a renunciation of worldly ambition, an ongoing paternal and institutional dependency, sexual abstinence, and social separation." "Blighted Beginnings further considers Ireland's "politics of chastity"---a national identity construction based on notions of moral purity that hindered sexual development and courtship practices---and how coming-of-age fiction dramatizes forms of sexual repression that obstruct courtship and marriage. It then takes up the related issue of how Irish coming-out narratives raise consciousness about the problems inherent in embracing a gay or lesbian identity in Ireland, and how culturally inscribed and institutionalized forms of prejudice in Irish society had, and still have impugned samesex relationships, imposed social and legal penalties to discourage homosexuality, and enforced the secrecy of the closet." "This book also looks at how authors have persistently used the bildungsroman to complicate and challenge the idealization of the family, exposing the divorce ban as symptomatic of an unrealistic notion of domestic inviolability. This study concludes with a discussion of the future of the bildungsroman in a country that has transcended many of its formative crises. This chapter considers Doyle's A Star Called Henry as a text that inaugurates a new phase in Irish coming-of-age narratives in which many of the problems of Irish life, formerly treated so earnestly and tragically, can be a source of play and humor." By looking at a comprehensive range of novels by writers like Sean O'Faolain, Elizabeth Bowen, Edna O'Brien, and William Trevor, as well as lesser known figures like Eimar O'Duffy, Francis MacManus, and Mary Morrissy, Blighted Beginnings traces the evolving concerns of Irish writers as they pushed for a greater accommodation of individual freedoms and aspirations.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780838757734
  • Publisher: Bucknell University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2010
  • Pages: 266
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 7

Introduction: "Genre and Nation": The European Bildungsroman Tradition and Post-Independence Ireland 9

1 Coming of Age in the Irish Free State: Individual and National Development 27

2 "Big House Bildung": Anglo-Irish Coming-of-Age Narratives 60

3 "Omnibus Omnium": Education, Vocation, and Surrogacy in Irish Coming-of-Age Narratives 94

4 "The Smear of Decency": Courtship and Sexual Initiation in Coming-of-Age Narratives 125

5 "A Land Transformed by Wonder": Coming Out in Ireland 155

6 Unhappy Families: Domestic Discord, the Divorce Debate, and Irish Coming-of-Age Narratives 186

Conclusion: Toward a Postmodern Irish Bildungsroman: Roddy Doyle's A Star Called Henry 220

Notes 235

Works Cited 252

Index 262

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