How Deirdre and the Sons of Uisneac Took the GPO: Parody in James Stephens’s Deirdre (1923)

Audrey Robitaillié


This article looks at the parodical aspects of James Stephens’s novel Deirdre, published in 1923. It uses Linda Hutcheon’s theoretical framework on parody to analyse how Stephens both follows the medieval tradition and the Revivalists, and distances his work from their influence. He breathes life into the age-old narrative of Deirdre by adding dialogues, psychological insights and humour to the story, but also by implicitly comparing the Sons of Uisneac to the Irish Volunteers of 1916. This serves to glorify the rebels, whom he had portrayed in his witness account The Insurrection in Dublin, but the depiction of the fratricidal fight at the court of Emain Macha at the end of the Deirdre legend also acts as a critique of the Irish civil war.

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