Synopses & Reviews
When the wind is from the north the old woman manages my meals with fair regularity; but on the other days she often makes my tea at three o'clock instead of six. If I refuse it she puts it down to simmer for three hours in the turf, and then brings it in at six o'clock full of anxiety to know if it is warm enough.... The general ignorance of any precise hours in the day makes it impossible for the people to have regular meals. -from The Aran Islands At the behest of William Butler Years, whom he met in Paris during his bohemian sojourn there, JOHN MILLINGTON SYNGE (1871-1909) traveled to the remote Irish Aran Islands for part of every summer from 1898 to 1902. The native Dubliner was seeking the hidden treasures of his native land, and he found the inspiration for the plays that would see his name live in posterity, including 1907's The Playboy of the Western World. This beautifully revealing 1906 work is Synge's journal of his time in the primitive Arans and among its hale, stalwart inhabitants. From the folktales of the Aran people to the quirks of their Gaelic-tinged English, from the pagan remnants that inflect their rough Christianity to the coarse monotony of their diet, Synge celebrates the simplicity of life in the Arans but never romanticizes it. These are the people who sparked Synge's imagination so strongly that all his plays reflect their hopes, their dreams, and their tragedies.
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