Review by Choice Review
O'Connor (Knox College) has collected essays that discuss the comedic element in the works of Irish female writers of the last two centuries. Not much of this is funny, since virtually all of the commentators are intent on demonstrating how Irish women poets and novelists used a sharp and defensive sense of humor to fend off a paternalistic authority that sought to relegate women to the margins. In a spirited and provocative opening essay, the Gaelic poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill asserts that the artistic production of Irish women over the last one thousand years has been either lost or excluded from the canon. The essays that follow are united in their attempt to revivify the central role that women have played in the Irish literary tradition, and the humor they discuss is usually an ironic undercutting of positions and roles that women have been forced to play. Particularly successful are the pieces by James Cahalan on Somerville and Ross, Michael Gillespie on Edna O'Brien, Theresa O'Connor on Julia O'Faolain, and Mary O'Connor on Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill. A valuable and thought provoking collection, recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. M. H. Begnal; Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.