Telling it like it is (and isn't) : recreating the self in Brendan Behan's Borstal boy

Title: Telling it like it is (and isn't) : recreating the self in Brendan Behan's Borstal boy
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2011, vol. 37, iss. 2, pp. [173]-184
Extent
[173]-184
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
Language
License: Not specified license
 

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Abstract(s)
This paper argues that, in Borstal Boy, Brendan Behan uses the form of the Irish prison memoir to deconstruct the political orthodoxies and sexual attitudes both of English colonialism and Irish nationalism and to replace them with a vision far more complex, hyphenated and tolerant. Although the work is based on Behan's experience as a young teenager sent to England on an I.R.A. bombing mission, then arrested and incarcerated in an English prison, Behan is not overly concerned with autobiographical authenticity. He uses his prison experience ironically to dramatize a microcosm in many ways freer and more loving than the nominally free world beyond its boundaries. In essence Behan uses the autobiographical subject as a social text that valorizes the solidarity of "we."