Jean Baird

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




M. Aziz




Edna O'Brien's first novel, The Country Girls, was received with great public and critical praise. This novel was the winner of the Kingsely Amis Award for the best first novel of 1959 and has been translated into twelve languages. Despite the success of the first novel and subsequent endeavours - novels, short-stories, non-fiction studies, plays, movies, television appearances - there has been little formal critical attention given to O'Brien's work, particularly in North America. It seems to me that O'Brien is a writer of very considerable talent; she is a craftsman in prose, and a distinguished and distinctive one. The purpose of this study is to test this contention by considering the immediate, accessible qualities of O'Brien's work and subjecting the work to close, critical scrutiny. This critical introduction will consider the trilogy of novels, The Country Girls, Girl with Green Eyes and Girls in their Married Bliss. Although these novels do not have the power and impact of the fully developed later voice, they do lay the foundation for the mature work. Each work is complete in itself but a better understanding of O'Brien's vision comes by examining the works as part of the whole. The trilogy introduces and begins to develop themes that recur throughout the canon.

McMaster University Library

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