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Flood, J. (1976). Synge's Ecstatic Dance and the Myth of the Undying Father. Am. Imago, 33(2):174-196.

(1976). American Imago, 33(2):174-196

Synge's Ecstatic Dance and the Myth of the Undying Father

Jeanne Flood, Ph.D.

Every critic since William B. Yeats has recognized that the transformation of John Millington Synge from expatriate aesthete to the vigorous creator of a new Irish drama was brought about by his visits to the Aran Islands. Synge's book on the Islands is the point of division between his severely limited early work and the great plays of his maturity. In the early summer of 1898, he went on the first of five consecutive yearly visits to the Islands; by November of 1901, he had written the first three chapters of The Aran Islands, and in the summer of 1902, he completed The Shadow of the Glen, Riders to the Sea, and the first draft of The Tinker's Wedding. Synge himself saw the Aran Book as the beginning of his real achievement:

I look on The Aran Islands as my first serious piece of work—it was written before any of my plays. In writing out the talk of the people and their stories in this book, and in a certain number of articles on the Wicklow peasantry which I have not yet collected, I learned to write the peasant dialect and dialogue which I use in my plays…. The Aran Islands throws a good deal of light on my plays.


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