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Norah Hoults Poor Women!: A Critical Edition

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337 pages5 hours

Summary

Irish author (Eleanor) Norah Hoult (1898–1984) traveled in prominent literary circles and corresponded actively with some of the leading Irish authors of her time, including Brigid Brophy, Sean O’Casey, and Sean O’Faolain. Critics today compare her not only to O’Faolain and Frank O’Connor, but also to novelists Kate O’Brien and Edna O’Brien. Despite her reputation and a forty-four year publishing career, however, Hoult and her work remain surprisingly neglected.

This edition rectifies this critical oversight and introduces Hoult’s short story collection, 'Poor Women!', to a new generation of readers. 'Poor Women!' displays Hoult’s subtlety and humor as an author and her nature as a keen witness to human frailty. In these stories, Hoult unflaggingly highlights the restrictions imposed on her characters by society and its institutions: she thus provides a window into the social, literary and political milieu from which she hails.

Largely cited for its engagement with women’s and religious issues, 'Poor Women!' thus also displays a keen awareness of wider historical issues like the challenges of war and of cultural identity construction. Her incisive portraits capture the emotional paralysis of her characters and their self-delusions. Such thematic and stylistic emphases invite further comparison to better-known contemporary Irish literary giants like James Joyce and Mary Lavin.

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