Vol. 10 No. 10 (2020): Minorities in/and Ireland
Sezione monografica / Monographic Section

Empathy in Exile: Edna O’Brien, Donal Ryan and the Contemporary Irish Novel

Kaitlin Thurlow
University of Massachusetts Boston
Published June 10, 2020
Keywords
  • Alterity,
  • Empathy,
  • Exile,
  • Narrative Strategy,
  • Post-Celtic Tiger
How to Cite
Thurlow, K. (2020). Empathy in Exile: Edna O’Brien, Donal Ryan and the Contemporary Irish Novel. Studi Irlandesi. A Journal of Irish Studies, 10(10), 115-130. https://doi.org/10.13128/SIJIS-2239-3978-11756

Abstract

This paper explores how empathy and exile are represented as narrative strategies in Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs and Donal Ryan’s From a Low and Quiet Sea. I argue that post-Celtic Tiger economy novels of the recent past are turning to a more global, universal and empathic Irishness in order to shed light on the problems of nationhood, gender and identity. Both authors use poetic forms of literary mythmaking, fairy tale or fable to imagine future possibilities, they employ free indirect style to inhabit a character’s inner state of mind and use collective witness testimonials and self-reflection in order to engage with the present. This study links research on narrative empathy with spatial, post-colonial and feminist theory to propose innovations in contemporary Irish fiction.

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