Playboy of the Western World

ISBN-10: 0887347002

ISBN-13: 9780887347009

Edition: N/A

List price: $7.50
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Description: Synge, who came from a middle-class Protestant family near Dublin, created a huge scandal at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, where The Playboy was staged in 1907, because its audience did not take kindly to a comedy that seemed to portray the Irish as violent, superstitious sots and swaggerers. Synge relied on and at the same time mocked the Irish dramatic movement and its ambition to create realistic drama that was also poetically beautiful. The play is set 'near a village, on a wild coast of Mayo'. On the first day, a stranger arrives and declares that he is on the run because he has killed his father - for this, the villagers turn him into a hero. On the second day, however, his father arrives walking wounded, and although Christy knocks him down with a spade, his father seems impossible to kill. The set off together, still quarrelling, and the villagers are bereft of their excitement.

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Book details

List price: $7.50
Publisher: Players Press, Incorporated
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 55
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.50" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.198
Language: English

After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, Synge left for Europe to write poetry. If W. B. Yeats had not discovered him in Paris and persuaded him to return to Ireland and absorb its native traditions, the Irish renaissance might have lost its best playwright. As it was, Synge's poetry of Celtic romanticism was rather more tempered with a European realism than Yeats and his renaissance had anticipated. Yeats sent Synge to the West of Ireland to get to know the peasants there. The result was, in addition to the journal The Aran Islands (1907), two short plays for the Abbey: The Shadow of the Glen (1903), in which a comic resurrection interrupts a widow's marriage bargaining, and Riders to the Sea (1904), about a mother's loss of her last son, a perfect condensed tragedy and probably the finest one-act play. The poorly received The Well of the Saints (1905), whose characters vehemently reject reality for comfortable illusion, offered the Abbey audience a warning of what was to come. This was Synge's masterpiece, The Playboy of the Western World (1907), which touched off rioting at the theater. The playboy is Christy Mahon, a lout who becomes a hero among the Mayo peasantry when he boasts he has murdered his father. Satire on Irish romanticism conceals a parable of the poet's development and estrangement from his public. But Dublin nationalists heard only the people slandered, and Dublin prudery heard only the forbidden word "shifts" on Christy's lips. Playboy was the last play Synge saw staged. He died of cancer at age 37, never having completed Deirdre of the Sorrows (1910), his only work in the Celtic legendary mode.

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