Kathleen Ferguson

Life
1958- ; [Kathleen Bernadette], b. Tamnaherin, Co. Derry; ed. Mullabuoy Primary Sch., Thornhill Grammar Sch., and UUC [BA, 1980; DPhil, 1986, ‘Narrative voice in Dickens’]; issued The Maid’s Tale (1994), dealing with the exploitation of Brigid, a housekeeper, by the parish priest Fr. Mann; her partner is John McVeagh, the Defoe scholar.

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Works
The Maid’s Tale (Dublin: Torc/Poolbeg 1994), 202pp.

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Criticism
Gerry Smyth, The Novel and the Nation: Studies in the New Irish Fiction (London: Pluto Press 1997), [on The Maid’s Tale], pp .88-91. [infra]. See also remarks in Linden Peach, The Contemporary Irish Novel: Critical Readings (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2004), Chap. 5 ‘Unspoken Desires’ [with Jennifer Johnston and Emma Donoghue].

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Commentary
Gerry Smyth, The Novel and the Nation: Studies in New Irish Fiction (London: Pluto Press 1997), ‘The novel shows Brigid becoming her own author, in effect her own god. Rather than having her life described in terms of other people or institutions, she tells her own story in her own words, thus reclaiming the sense of self which the Church had insisted she sacrifice. The Maid’s Tale is written in the form of an oral history, and Brigid’s resistance to patriarchal ideology is supported by the control she exerts over her own narrative. Telling the story of her life is an enabling act for Brigid, a way of affirming identity in the present. She insists en ordering her own life, allowing space to certain things while omitting others, employing her own idiom and her own perspectives to combat the weight of institutional discourse. The narrative ethos is one of the spoken rather than the written word. Brigid does not try to pretend that her version is objective or uninfluenced by her position in the present. This narrative is alive, and the reader is invoked throughout and invited to take an active part in the narrative process.’ (pp.88-91.)

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