Plays of J M Synge Book 1
The Plays – Book 1

The Plays – Book 1


Edited by Ann Saddlemyer

ISBN: 978-0-86140-060-7

J.M.Synge died in 1909 and The Works of John M. Synge were published in four volumes by Maunsel & Co., Dublin, in 1910. Since that time, with the exception of a few minor verses and one or two fragments of prose, the canon of his work has remained unaltered. Nevertheless, much unpublished material exists, for the most part of great interest and significance for the understanding of Synge's methods of work and development. This material, including early drafts of the plays, notebooks, poems, and fragments of poetic drama, has now been thoroughly explored in order to create this definitive edition, first published by Oxford University Press 1962-68, which not only collects together all that is of significance in his printed and in his unprinted work, but also, by a careful use of worksheets and early drafts, indicates much of the process of creation which occurred before the production of the printed page.

The Collected Works is in four volumes, under the general editorship of the late Professor Robin Skelton, of the University of Victoria, British Columbia. The first volume contains edition of Synge's poems and translations, the second assembles all Synge's prose writings of ant merit or interest, edited by the late Dr Alan Price, of The Queen's University, Belfast.

The third and fourth volumes are devoted to Synge's plays, edited by Professor Ann Saddlemyer, then of Victoria College, University of Toronto, now retired. Only five of the plays were published during Synge's lifetime. One emptied the Abbey Theatre, yet was the first of its productions to be translated and performed on the Continent; one caused riots in both Britain and America; one was considered 'too dangerous' to be performed in Ireland. All were written during the last seven years of Synge's life, for the Abbey Theatre, of which he was co-director with W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. But although his output was comparatively slight, Synge's contribution to the development of modern drama is immeasurable.

In the first volume of the plays we see the development of the playwright's craft. Definitive texts, based on Synge's own notebooks and typewritten drafts, are provided of Riders to the Sea, The Shadow of the Glen, and The Well of the Saints. Included is his controversial first play, When the Moon Has Set, rejected three times by his co-directors, yet carefully preserved by Synge among his papers. Other material discovered among his notebooks, scenarios, dialogues, and fragments, written between 1894 and 1908, indicates not only the scrupulousness with which Synge studied his art, but his rich and fertile imagination. A comprehensive introduction records the history of each play in the making, from genesis to finished product, at the same time setting Synge's work within the larger context of his experience as director and producer and quoting from his own letters documenting his progress. Appendices analysing the drafts of each play and giving details of first productions provide further bibliographical information and describe the numerous manuscript sources tracked down by the editor in public and private collections in both Ireland and the United States.

The second volume of plays contains texts of The Tinker's Wedding, The Playboy of the Western World, and Deirdre of the Sorrows, with similar notes and appendices.

These volumes were published by arrangement with Oxford University Press.


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