The Herne’s Egg
Edited, with an introduction and notes, by Andrew Parkin.
This play has long been attacked as repugnant in subject – for example, the brutal gang rape of a woman by seven men – and confused in tone. Yet despite its bloodshed, murder, rape, and suicide, Yeats still imbues the play with farcical, ironic humour, and compared to his last two plays, Purgatory (1939) and The Death of Cuchulain (1939), this tragic farce is the lightest in mood and tone.
Professor Parkin draws on the clash of values – between Christian and Pagan – and maintains that this central theme justifies the violence, sacrilege, sensuality and ferocious energy. Yeats imbues the play with farcical and ironic humour and his action is never tasteless or merely sensational. The Herne's Egg is an exuberant and crucial landmark in Yeatsian drama.
This, the first critical edition, will be of very real interest to the modern reader or actor.