Synge, John Millington

born April 16, 1871, Rathfarnham, near Dublin, Ire.
died March 24, 1909, Dublin

Irish playwright.

After studying languages and music in Dublin and France, he met William Butler Yeats, who advised Synge to go to the west coast of Ireland to draw material from life. From 1899 to 1902 he spent his summers on the Aran Islands, observing the people and learning their language; he based his first plays, In the Shadow of the Glen (1903) and Riders to the Sea (1904), on islanders' stories. His travels on the Irish west coast inspired his most famous play, The Playboy of the Western World (1907); its unsentimental treatment of Irish character traits caused riots at its opening at the Abbey Theatre. His unfinished Deirdre of the Sorrows was performed in 1910. A poetic dramatist of great power, he was a leading figure of the Irish literary renaissance.

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▪ Irish author
born April 16, 1871, Rathfarnham, near Dublin, Ire.
died March 24, 1909, Dublin

      leading figure in the Irish (Irish literature) literary renaissance, a poetic dramatist of great power who portrayed the harsh rural conditions of the Aran Islands and the western Irish seaboard with sophisticated craftsmanship.

      After studying at Trinity College and at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, Synge pursued further studies from 1893 to 1897 in Germany, Italy, and France. In 1894 he abandoned his plan to become a musician and instead concentrated on languages and literature. He met William Butler Yeats (Yeats, William Butler) while studying at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1896. Yeats inspired him with enthusiasm for the Irish renaissance and advised him to stop writing critical essays and instead to go to the Aran Islands and draw material from life. Already struggling against the progression of a lymphatic sarcoma that was to cause his death, Synge lived in the islands during part of each year (1898–1902), observing the people and learning their language, recording his impressions in The Aran Islands (1907) and basing his one-act plays In the Shadow of the Glen (first performed 1903) and Riders to the Sea (1904) on islanders' stories. In 1905 his first three-act play, The Well of the Saints, was produced.

      Synge's travels on the Irish west coast inspired his most famous play, The Playboy of the Western World (1907). This morbid comedy deals with the moment of glory of a peasant boy who becomes a hero in a strange village when he boasts of having just killed his father, but who loses the villagers' respect when his father turns up alive. In protest against the play's unsentimental treatment of the Irishmen's love for boasting and their tendency to glamorize ruffians, the audience rioted at its opening at Dublin's Abbey Theatre. Riots of Irish-Americans accompanied its opening in New York (1911), and there were further riots in Boston and Philadelphia. Synge remained associated with the Abbey Theatre, where his plays gradually won acceptance, until his death. His unfinished Deirdre of the Sorrows, a vigorous poetic dramatization of one of the great love stories of Celtic mythology, was performed there in 1910.

      In the seven plays he wrote during his comparatively short career as a dramatist, Synge recorded the colourful and outrageous sayings, flights of fancy, eloquent invective, bawdy witticisms, and earthy phrases of the peasantry from Kerry to Donegal. In the process he created a new, musical dramatic idiom, spoken in English but vitalized by Irish syntax, ways of thought, and imagery.

Additional Reading
The standard biographies are David H. Greene and Edward M. Stephens, J.M. Synge, 1871–1909 (1959); and W.J. McCormack, Fool of the Family: A Life of J.M. Synge (2000). Robin Skelton, The Writings of J.M. Synge (1971); Declan Kiberd, Synge and the Irish Language (1979); and Mary C. King, The Drama of J.M. Synge (1985), discuss various aspects of his work.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Synge,John Millington — Synge (sĭng), John Millington. 1871 1909. Irish playwright whose works, based on rural Irish life, include The Playboy of the Western World (1907). * * * …   Universalium

  • Synge, John Millington — ► (1871 1909) Dramaturgo irlandés. Autor de Jinetes hacia el mar, El pozo de los santos y El pillete del oeste. * * * (16 abr. 1871, Rathfarnham, cerca de Dublín, Irlanda–24 mar. 1909, Dublín). Dramaturgo irlandés. Estudió idiomas y música en… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Synge, John Millington — (1871 1909)    Miscellaneous writer, b. near Dublin, ed. privately and at Trinity Coll., Dublin. He wrote Riders to the Sea, In the Shadow of the Glen (1905), The Well of the Saints (1905), The Play Boy of the Western World (1907), and The Aran… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • John Millington Synge — John Millington Synge. John Millington Synge (16 de abril de 1871 24 de marzo de 1909) fue un dramaturgo, poeta …   Wikipedia Español

  • John Millington Synge — Pour les articles homonymes, voir John Synge. John Millington Synge. John Millington Synge, né le 16 avril 1871, à Rathfarnham …   Wikipédia en Français

  • John Millington Synge — Gedenktafel im Sa …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John Millington Synge — Infobox Writer name = John Millington Synge caption = John Millington Synge birthdate = birth date|1871|4|16|df=y birthplace = Rathfarnham, Dublin, Ireland deathdate = death date and age|1909|3|24|1871|4|16|df=y deathplace = Elpis Nursing Home,… …   Wikipedia

  • John Millington Synge — noun Irish poet and playwright whose plays are based on rural Irish life (1871 1909) • Syn: ↑Synge, ↑J. M. Synge, ↑Edmund John Millington Synge • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dramatist, ↑playwright, ↑poet …   Useful english dictionary

  • Synge, Edmund John Millington — (1871 1909)    Born in Rathfarnham, Dublin, the son of a Protestant barrister who died when Edmund was a year old. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1892, then went to Germany to study music but chose literature instead, and lived in… …   British and Irish poets

  • John Millington Synge — ➡ Synge * * * …   Universalium

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