Ever since the publication of her first collection, Tales from Bective Bridge, in 1942, Mary Lavin has been praised for admirably capturing the social and psychological reality of mid-twentieth-century Ireland, in intense and lucid stories.
Yet Lavin’s sharp insight into the quiet tragedies and joys of human life easily transcends its immediate context, and her work continues to appeal to contemporary readers, both in Ireland and abroad.
To celebrate the centenary of Mary Lavin’s birth, this collection honours one of the leading figures of the Irish short story tradition. Leading criticss examine the main themes and stylistic features of Lavin’s novels and short stories from a variety of perspectives, including gender, sexuality, family and community.
Lavin’s work is presented here in its literary, historical and biographical context, drawing attention to Lavin’s indebtedness to modernism, her engagement with popular culture and the influence of her early American experience.
While some writers offer new insights into such famous stories as ‘In a Cafe’ or ‘The Becker Wives’, others bring to light largely neglected gems such as ‘The Yellow Beret’ or ‘The Small Bequest’. There is also engagement with new archival material, including Lavin’s correspondence with her New Yorker editors and private letters.
- A comprehensive account of the fiction of Mary Lavin, one of the most prominent Irish writers of the twentieth century
- Taking into account new archival material, the book investigates the thematic and stylistic features of Lavin’s work from a variety of perspectives, including the Irish-American
- Accessible celebration to Lavin’s work, which is of perennial interest to general readers and academics
Table of Contents
Introduction by Elke D’hoker
1. Heartfelt Narratives: Mary Lavin’s Life and Work – Maurice Harmon
2. Masculinites in the Short Stories of Mary Lavin – Heather Ingman
3. Discontinuities: Tales from Bective Bridge and the Modernist Short Story Tradition – Anne Fogarty
4. Theatrical Trends in Mary Lavin’s Early Stories – Giovanna Tallone
5. ‘Trying to get the words right’: Mary Lavin and The New Yorker – Gráinne Hurley
6. The Irish-American Dimension of Mary Lavin’s Stories – Theresa Wray
7. Blind Faith & Class Distinctions in Mary Lavin’s ‘The Small Bequest’ & ‘The Mock Auction’ – Jeanette Shumaker
8. ‘I had always despised him a little’: Plumbing the Depths of Feeling in Mary’s Lavin’s Two Irish Novels – Derek Hand
9. Family and Community in Mary Lavin’s Grimes Stories – Elke D’hoker
10. The mystery of ‘The Yellow Beret’: Mary Lavin and the Art of Short Fiction – Julie Anne Stevens
11. ‘Stranded Objects’: Topographies of Loss in Mary Lavin’s Widow Stories – Sinéad Mooney
About the Author
Elke D’hoker is associate professor at the University of Leuven, Belgium. She is the author of Visions of Alterity: Representation in the Works of John Banville (2004) and co-editor of Narrative Unreliability (2008) and Irish Women Writers: New Critical Perspectives (2011).