Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Tinker's Wedding by John Synge

The Tinker's Wedding by John Synge (1908)
"J. M. Synge-Remembering the Future" -Chapter Ten of Inventing Ireland by Declan Kiberd

The Irish Quarter

1871 to 1909

I have so far read The Aran Islands and The Playboy of the Western World by John Synge.   I am convinced by reading Kiberd's analyses of his work and Colm Toibin's remarks in Lady Gregory's Toothbrush that Synge is the third most important modern Irish author.   His use of language is just incredibly powerful.   His conversations and the patterns of speech in his plays are just wonderful.   It is how I imagine Irish was spoken and I love it!.   There is a beautiful cadence in his plays.  I hope to see one of his plays performed when I am in Ireland in May 2013.

I first became aware of the Irish Traveller culture (once called "Tinkers") when I discovered their predominance in the short stories of Desmond Hogan.  In the spirit of a famous line in Gravity's Rainbow, I think some secrets have been given to the Travellers to preserve against centrifugal history.   I recently acquired an ebook of the complete poems and plays of W. B. Yeats and a search found "Tinker" appears forty one times.   I think in the work of Synge and Yeats Travellers are romanticised and I think to some extent the treatment of Travellers by Hogan is a revolt against this romanticism and attempt to discover some darker truths than Yeats or Sygne were able to deal with.   Yeats and Sygne saw them as stock figures, symbols of freedom that did stand above the cant of Irish culture, where  Hogan helps us see the most oppressive cant was in the allegedly treatment of the Tinkers by figures of the Irish Renaissance in which they acted as though they were attacking the established culture.

A lot of the fun of The Tinker's Wedding is in the language.   Kiberd says the theme of the story is the conflicts between the culture of the Tinkers and the Anglo-Irish as represented by the wish of the Tinker woman to have a bishop perform her marriage ceremony.   I really enjoyed the conversations.  

I plan to read and post on all of Synge's plays.

Please share your experiences with John Synge with us.

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