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    STUDIA PHILOLOGIA - Issue no. 4 / 2004  

  Abstract:  By focusing on Jennifer Johnston’s novels from different periods of her creation we can see how she uses an aesthetic of appropriation to stage a dialogue between Irish and English-Continental traditions. They incorporate and deconstruct narratives that derive from an elitist culture: Johnston’s novels incorporate – without being samples of classical autobiographies – the ‘saga’ of her own life impersonalized in the life of the modern Irish woman which she deliberately attempts to de-mythisize by stripping it of the usual artificial psychological make up and emotional pretense. Throughout her entire writing, Jennifer Johnston reiterates, sometimes with discretion and other times overtly, the theme of isolation, one of the (several) elements which seems to have related most – if not all – of Irish writers, disregard their genre of affiliation. Because her protagonists are with but few exceptions women, this life condition is revealed from a unquestionable feminine perspective, without, however, determining any interpretative partiality on the writer’s part. Isolation may, therefore, be read as a gender-less attitude, as a response to specific social or political, or merely genetic-environmental stimuli. This could be because before all, Jennifer Johnston’s women are strong personalities, personalities of Joycean descent, one might categorize them, individuals who want themselves simply themselves. If we were to gather them all and melt them together and let them arrange by themselves, the outcome of this will be her, Jennifer Johnston, the woman and the artist at the same time. Summed up, Jennifer Johnston’s women are faithful autobiographical representations of the writing subject, or better said, a multiple reflection of it; the lives ‘confessed’ of in her novels are lives of emotionally refined and meandering personalities, usually of intellectual extraction, at various stages of their individual and artistic development. Could then, Jennifer Johnston be another product of the Irish personal and artistic isolation? Let her answer herself this question.  
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