Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time

Overview

In this important prose work, one of our major poets explores, through autobiography and argument, a woman's life in Ireland together with a poet's work.
Eavan Boland beautifully uncovers the powerful drama of how these lives affect one another; how the tradition of womanhood and the historic vocation of the poet act as revealing illuminations of the other.
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Overview

In this important prose work, one of our major poets explores, through autobiography and argument, a woman's life in Ireland together with a poet's work.
Eavan Boland beautifully uncovers the powerful drama of how these lives affect one another; how the tradition of womanhood and the historic vocation of the poet act as revealing illuminations of the other.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
“Thoughtfully, Boland recounts the long, uncertain process by which she came to construct (as any poet must) a persona: how she grew out of that well-schooled girl with an unsettled past and a well-received early book, into herself, a wife and mother residing in a Dublin suburb, beginning to write poems of another kind. . . . Eavan Boland has made an honest book and written of intricate matters courteously. She has proposed to her reader a composed, level-headed, yet spirited argument.”
The Nation
“In a prose style so lyrical, spare and elegiac it rivals poetry, she draws us into personal memory, autobiographical anecdote and family history. . . . It is not like any other book in memory: inspired, relentless, deliberately and eloquently hand-drawn.”
Mark Strand
“Eavan Boland's Object Lessons is the most perceptive account that I have read of what it means to be a woman writing poetry in the late twentieth century.”
Library Journal
Blending autobiography with argument, Boland, a well-known poet in Ireland, addresses the challenge of reconciling her identity as a woman and mother writing in suburbia with the male-oriented political tradition of Irish poetry. Beginning with recollections of her earlier life in Ireland and her grandmother, Boland attempts to explain the woman poet's conflict with assuming the role of creator after having been traditionally treated as an object in Irish poetry. The author, most recently of the acclaimed poetry collection In a Time of Violence (LJ 3/1/94), structures her latest book like a poem, presenting an argument, leaving it, and then returning to it again. This method is well suited to her self-conscious exploration of the duality between woman and poet. Complex and thought-provoking, this title will appeal to readers interested in the craft of poetry and woman's role as artist.-Nancy R. Ives, Geneseo Univ., N.Y.
Patricia Monaghan
One of Ireland's greatest contemporary poets weighs in with a splendid collection of essays woven of sensuous autobiography, convoluted national history, and postmodern literary criticism. If this were a tapestry, its central figure would be a woman surrounded by playing children, burgeoning gardens, and the homey details of family life; she would be posed against a backdrop symbolic of civil war, emigration, and ripening nationalism. But how would we know that woman is a poet? Boland's lifelong project has been to recognize the poet in woman, the woman in poet. In Ireland, woman appears central to poetry, but only as object, especially as an object symbolic of the nation. The ordinary life of family, sexuality, and nurturing love is lived "outside history" (the title of one of Boland's collections of poems) and outside literature as well. What rhetoric will include this formerly excluded life? What form? In her poetry, Boland has answered those questions; here she specifies them in somber and moving detail: the rhetoric must be made of silences as well as speech, and the form must incorporate absences as well as presences. Abstruse as her subject may seem, Boland's crystalline prose makes it accessible and intensely moving.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393037166
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 254
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Eavan Boland is the author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry and nonfiction. A professor and the director of the Creative Writing program at Stanford University, she lives in Stanford, California, and Dublin, Ireland.
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Table of Contents

Author's Preface
1 Lava Cameo 3
2 A Fragment of Exile 35
3 In Search of a Nation 52
4 In Search of a Language 72
5 Turning Away 88
6 Outside History 123
7 The Woman The Place The Poet 154
8 Subject Matters 175
9 Making the Difference 202
10 The Woman Poet: Her Dilemma 239
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