Models and Mediators in the Autobiography of Sean O’Casey
I Knock at the Door, the first volume of Sean O’Casey’s autobiography, appeared in 1939. At approximate intervals of three years, it was followed by further volumes. Sunset and Evening Star, the sixth and concluding one, was published in 1954.1 Despite the fact that for longer than two decades O’Casey gave much of his creative energy to his autobiography, it has not received commensurate critical attention.2 The shortage of detailed evaluation of such a large presence in the O’Casey canon can conceivably be explained by the complex nature of autobiography itself, by the lack of established critical approaches to the genre, and by O’Casey’s experiments within the work. He uses third-person narration, ignores chronological progression, and introduces fantasies, outrageous dramatic scenes, and long passages of apparently extraneous material into the narrative. These and other rhetorical liberties appear, at first glance, to have little bearing on the story of the developing subject. In this paper I wish to discuss the seemingly disproportionate amount of information related to a variety of secondary characters. The central focus of any autobiography is the hero, growing and maturing as a result of successive encounters with the reality of his world. Yet, O’Casey frequently directs his reader’s attention to material dealing with a variety of secondary characters.
KeywordsSecondary Character Moral Courage Irish People Irish Language Successive Encounter
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