Riders to the Sea

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Dodo Press, Oct 1, 2005 - Poetry - 48 pages
Large Format for easy reading. Although from a middle-class Protestant background, Synge's writings are mainly concerned with the world of the Roman Catholic peasants of rural Ireland. He is best known for his play The Playboy of the Western World, which caused riots in Dublin. His experiences on the Aran islands were to form the basis for many of his plays, including Riders to the Sea. Set in a cottage on Inishmaan, it is about a man whose body was washed up on the far away coast of Donegal, and who, by reason of certain peculiarities of dress, was suspected to be from the island.

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Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
4
Section 3
5

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About the author (2005)

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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