Kate O’Brien and the Fiction of Identity

Sex, Art and Politics in Mary Lavelle and Other Writings

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About the Book

Kate O’Brien’s work is now widely considered canonical in the English language, and the author herself an icon for Ireland seeking to reinvent itself. O’Brien’s novel Mary Lavelle, banned upon publication in 1936, is a key work of the twentieth century that has suffered from critical neglect despite its wider popularity with readers. This book reexamines Mary Lavelle, exploring its role in the modernist canon and its importance to political and queer activism. The novel’s biographical and autobiographical experimentation is of particular note. Through the lens of this crucial novel, the oeuvre of Kate O’Brien is recontextualized and reassessed.

About the Author(s)

Aintzane Legarreta Mentxaka is a writer and editor based in Dublin where she received her Ph.D. from the School of English, Drama, and Film from the University College Dublin. She publishes frequently on popular culture and Irish literature.

Bibliographic Details

Aintzane Legarreta Mentxaka
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 290
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4873-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5677-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: The Canon      1

1. Some Contexts      11

2. Activist Fiction I: Politics      38

3. Activist Fiction II: Sexuality      66

4. Modernism      101

5. History      133

6. Biography: Enrique Areilza (1860–1926)      168

7. Autobiography: Kate O’Brien (1922–1923, 1935–1936)      203

Conclusion: Identity      235

Works Cited      251

Index      269

Book Reviews & Awards

“a fascinating portrait of O’Brien…Mentxaka’s exemplary scholarship and persuasive insights will contribute to the ongoing and much needed reappraisal of O’Brien within Irish literary history and cultural studies more broadly”—English Studies.