J.M. Synge's first play to be produced in Dublin was rejected as "a slander on Irish womanhood", and his major drama, "The Playboy of the Western World", caused rioting inside and outside the theatre. With the energy of a powerful reticence, he told the newspapers that he "did not care a rap" for the rioters and retired for a week to bed. But he was denounced as an Ascendancy eavesdropper, and his work was rejected by nationalists because it was written in English. The result of this distrust was that the very people who were qualified to assess his debts to the native language refused to take his work as a subject for serious study. Synge became the victim of a cruel paradox - those who loved his works knew no Irish, and those who loved Irish despised his works. International commentators came to accept the assumption that the dramatist knew little or nothing of his native language. This book shows that, on the contrary, Synge's command of Irish was extensive, and that this knowledge proved invaluable in the writing of his major plays. This reappraisal of Synge's achievement draws on his unpublished papers in the Irish language.
In rebutting the nationalist attack on the dramatist with an account of his deep indebtedness to the Gaelic tradition, Declan Kiberd also reveals an Irish Synge who has been consistenly neglected by international scholars. This new edition has been augmented by an introductory chapter, reviewing recent developments in Synge criticism, and offering a post-colonial interpretation of "The Playboy of the Western World". Declan Kiberd is the author of "Anglo-Irish Attitudes" and "Men and Feminism in Modern Literature", and editor of "An Crann faoi Bhlath: The Flowering Tree: Modern Irish Poetry with Verse Translations, 1940-89" and "The Students' Annotated Ulysses".
Preface to the Second Edition - Abbreviations - Introduction - Synge's Knowledge of Irish - Scholar and Translator - Synge and Irish Literature: Saga, Myth and Romance - The Songs of the Folk - Synge and Folklore - Deirdre of the Sorrows - Anglo-Irish as a Literary Dialect: The Contribution of Synge - Synge, the Gaelic League and the Irish Revival - Notes - Select Bibliography - Index