New Publication: Kate O’Brien and Spanish Literary Culture

Kate O’Brien and Spanish Literary Culture

Jane Davison

Paper $24.95 9780815635352

Cloth  $55.00 9780815635475

Ebook  9780815654131


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“This important study reveals Spain as a significant locus of creative disinhibition and resistance for Kate O’Brien. Her lifelong fascination with Spanish literary culture granted an oblique way of subverting the conservative Catholic social and cultural imperatives of the Irish Free State. Davison convincingly situates O’Brien within a tradition of feminist dissidence, making a vital contribution to ongoing discussions about the significance of gender and sexuality to Irish national identity.”

Katherine Mullin, University of Leeds


“This is a book of real importance, providing a fresh and original reading of a central theme within Kate O’Brien’s writings.”

—Eibhear Walshe, author of Kate O’Brien: A Writing Life


One of the most important Irish novelists of the twentieth century, Kate O’Brien (1897–1974) was also a pioneer of women’s writing. In a career that spanned almost fifty years, nine novels, nine plays, two travelogues, and copious criticism, O’Brien rebelled against the narrow nationalism and restrictive Catholicism prevalent in independent Ireland.

In this highly original approach to O’Brien’s work, Davison traces the influence of three leading Spanish writers—Jacinto Benavente, Miguel de Cervantes, and Teresa of Avila. O’Brien’s lifelong fascination with Spanish literature and culture offered an oblique way of resisting the Catholic and conservative imperatives of the Irish Free State. In a series of close comparative readings, Davison identifies the origin of O’Brien’s creative disinhibition and ultimately situates her within a tradition of dissident Irish women writers.