Contemporary Irish Life Writing – How Fictional Is The Truth?

Mannix, Aoife. 2014. Contemporary Irish Life Writing – How Fictional Is The Truth?. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis comprises a memoir entitled ‘Is It Yourself?’ and a critical commentary. The memoir tells the story of three generations of Irish women, the author, her mother and her grandmother. It describes the impact of family secrets and lies on their sense of identity. The commentary examines the process of writing the memoir within the context of contemporary Irish life writing. It looks at the difficult relationship between truth and fiction in autobiographical writing. It consists of an introduction that gives an overview of how issues of truth telling are particularly complex in an Irish literary context. The first chapter then looks at the connections between memory and place with reference to the work of J. M. Synge. The second chapter examines the use of language in life writing, particularly the influence of the Irish language on the memoir writer Hugo Hamilton. The third chapter looks at the role of the self as narrator, specifically in relation to Irish women writers and sexuality with reference to the work of Nuala O’Faolain and Nell McCafferty. The conclusion considers the idea of truth as multiple and permeated by fiction by looking at the writing of Brendan Behan and John McGahern as well as the influence of the short story and other forms of fiction on Irish life writing. Throughout, there is a connection made between the principal theme of the memoir, the difficulty of telling the truth in real life, and the difficulties of writing the truth on paper.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Memoir, Irish, truth

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


10 December 2014

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Dec 2014 12:10

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 09:06


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