(Re)producing identity and creating famine in nuala O'faolain's my dream of you

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2 Scopus citations


Nuala O'Faolain's novel My Dream of You connects the Great Famine and contemporary women's status in the Republic of Ireland. Her narrative structure juxtaposes an embedded story from the 1840s with the main story arc, set in contemporary Ireland, relating the legacy of the Great Famine both to postcolonial attitudes about food and eating and to women's limited political roles in the Republic. The text presents mirrored female characters from the famine-era Big House and the mid-twentieth century to create a gendered association between the eras. This textual strategy of spiraling from the Famine to more recent oppression of women provides insight into Ireland's obsessive control of female reproductive ability. O'Faolain's text repeats images of land, fertility, food production (and consumption), women's bodies, and reproduction, suggesting a link between the failure of the land to produce food and the need to control unruly female bodies. Women's bodies and their fertility become ciphers for the health of Ireland, rather than spaces for individual consciousness. Finally, O'Faolain's text questions the outcomes of such symbolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-216
Number of pages20
JournalCritique - Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Great Famine
  • Irish women
  • My Dream of You
  • Nuala O'Faolain
  • Republic of Ireland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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