Edited by Ann Saddlemyer
xxxvi, 304 pp. 21.4cm
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 Nevertheless, much unpublished material exists, for the most part of great interest and significance for the understanding of Synge's methods of work and development.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.
The Collected Works is under the general editorship of the late Professor Robin Skelton, of the University of Victoria, British Columbia. The first volume contains his edition of Synge's poems and translations; the second assembles all Synge's prose writings of any 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. The first of these volumes contains texts of Riders to the Sea, The Shadow of the Glen, and The Well of the Saints, and of the originally little known When the Moon has Set, with appendices analysing the drafts of each play and giving details of first productions. In addition the volume contains much unpublished material, scenarios, dialogues, and fragments, discovered among Synge's notebooks.
This volume provides definitive texts of The Tinker's Wedding, The Playboy of the Western World, and Deirdre of the Sorrows. For all these three plays recently discovered manuscript and notebook material has involved a certain amount of textual alteration; an examination of the long-lost final typescript of The Playboy of the Western World has provided many clues to the author's intentions, while comparison of the various drafts of Deirdre of the Sorrows with the typescript given by the executors to Yeats and Lady Gregory has enabled Dr Saddlemyer to determine the extent of posthumous collaboration.
Synge rewrote his plays many times; one act of The Playboy ran to at least fifteen full drafts, not counting numerous alterations. By examining each available draft of every play, the editor has been able to provide not only a final text of each play as close as possible to the dramatist's version, but in her accompanying notes almost a variorum study of significant passages. Appendixes record the growth of each play from the original scenario through many drafts to the final text, and include discarded scenes which throw new light on the playwright's creative process. Details of first productions and a comprehensive description of all the manuscript sources are also included. The introduction traces the history of each play, quoting extensively from Synge's unpublished correspondence and notebooks to record the dramatist's attitude to his own work in the making, and to set each play against the broader background of the Abbey Theatre. In searching out the material for this edition, Dr Saddlemyer has made use of public and private collections in both Ireland and the United States, and has also included a glossary and guide to pronunciation.
These volumes were published by arrangement with Oxford University Press.
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