Short Fiction in Theory & Practice vol:2 issue:1 pages:129-140
This paper traces the development figures of the author in the short fiction of the Irish writer Mary Lavin against the background of her anomalous position as woman, writer and mother in the conservative and patriarchal context of mid-century Ireland. Through a detailed reading of six stories, the paper shows how after staging a confident author figure in the early "A Story With A Pattern", Lavin dramatized the tension between her roles as mother and artist in a series of oppositional characters in stories such as "The Becker Wives", "Eterna" and "In a Café". Her artist figures, modelled after the Romantic conception of the author as exceptionally gifted outsiders, are thus unable to attain 'ordinary' lives as wives or mothers; while her alter ego in the so-called widow stories are mostly realised as 'just' wife, widow and mother. Only in two stories written at the end of her career does Lavin again stage an author figure who combines the roles of mother and writer, thus offering an alternative to the Romantic and predominantly masculine image of the author that has long dominated Irish literary culture.