Rediscovering Frank O'Connor

John Connors Kerrigan, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


"Minor" twentieth-century Irish writers such as Frank O'Connor have largely been neglected by a critical era which favors longer, more experimental fiction, following James Joyce's models. Both in practice and in theory, Frank O'Connor set standards for the modern short story beyond its current misconception as "a narrative form shorter than the novel." Still, as a master of his genre and a significant contributor to his nation's literary renaissance, Frank O'Connor's reputation has faded in recent years; This thesis will attempt to account for the decline in O'Connor's reputation and to reexamine his artistry in terms of his range and depth of characterization and manipulation of narrative technique. O'Connor's characters constituted a diverse population of romantic idealists, soldiers, and priests, among others, though he is best known for highly-anthologized stories about children. Each of O'Connor's character groups provides a significant quantity of entertaining, realistic stories which deserve further critical attention. This thesis will explore the techniques O'Connor employed in his short fiction, with the dual purpose of demonstrating the focus and insight of individual stories and judging anew the literary reputation of the artist himself.