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The ‘Historical Poetics’ of Kate O'Brien's Limerick: a critical literary Geography of Saorstát Éireann and the 1937 Bunreacht na hÉireann Plebiscite

Charles Travis


The polemics of place operating in Catholic bourgeois Saorstat Eireann in 1937, the year of the Bunreacht na hEireann plebescite are aptly mapped, illustrated and critiqued in Kate O’Brien’s 1938 novel Pray for the Wanderer. O’Brien’s subtle and audacious literary technique charts the social and political landscapes of the Saorstat which emerged in the two decades after independence. O’Brien creates a spatial metonym for her native Limerick, to represent the increasingly binding relations between family, class, religion, gender and sexuality. The theoretical lenses which bring the critical literary geographies of O’Brien’s writing into focus employ Mikhail Bakhtin’s Historical Poetics to excavate the ‘aesthetic landscape’ of her text and to explore and discuss its relevant social and political themes.

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Copyright © Geographical Society of Ireland | Home | Contact us | ISSN: 0075-0778 (Print), 1939-4055 (Online) | Last Update: November 10, 2021