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Modern Irish Drama

W. B. Yeats to Marina Carr, Second Edition

Sanford Sternlicht

Publication Year: 2010

Modern Irish Drama: W. B. Yeats to Marina Carr presents a thorough introduction to the recent history of one of the greatest dramatic and theatrical traditions in Western culture. Originally published in 1988, this updated edition provides extensive new material, charting the path of modern and contemporary Irish drama from its roots in the Celtic Revival to its flowering in world theater. The lives and careers of more than fifty modern Irish playwrights are discussed along with summaries of their major plays and recommendations for further reading.

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. ix

THE GENESIS OF THIS BOOK resulted from my teaching modern Irish drama at Syracuse University and at Trinity College, Dublin, for many summers under the auspices of the Syracuse University Ireland Program. In teaching these courses, I found that excellent play anthologies were available, but that there was no up-to-date...

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p. xi

MANY IRISH AND AMERICAN academics and playwrights have helped with this book, and I thank them all. I especially wish to thank Christopher Fitz-Simon, critic, theater historian, director, and actor, who is so very deserving of the esteem and affection that his peers and I have for him; Christopher Murray of University...

Part One: Backgrounds

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1. Early Irish History

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pp. 3-7

CONTEMPORARY IRISH SOCIETY is a moving point on a continuum of evolving, superseding, incorporating cultures created by migration, conquest, colonization, imperial domination, religious and racial conflict and prejudice, and an overriding belief in a people’s coherence, unity, and destiny. This destiny began with the aboriginal...

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2. The Century of Destiny

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pp. 8-11

POSITIONS HARDENED DR AMATICALLY with the coming of the twentieth century. Sinn Fein was established under Arthur Griffith in 1908, and three illegal armies were formed in 1913: the Ulster Volunteer Force in the North and the Irish Citizens Army and the Irish Volunteers in the South. The island was racked with labor...

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3. The Literary Tradition

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pp. 12-15

With Catholic emancipation in the nineteenth century, the Irish people began to look back on their medieval cultural inheritance—the literature and art of the early Christian era—and to reconstruct the past in fine and applied art. Most significant, a renewed pride in the ancient tongue, Irish, revived the use and study of the language and probably...

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4. The Irish Theater

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pp. 16-26

THEATER CAME TO IRELAND in the Middle Ages with the Anglo- Norman invaders. Mystery plays, which were based on the Bible, and morality plays, which served as dramatized allegorical sermons, were performed in the towns under the auspices of the church and the guilds on holidays such as Whitsuntide and Corpus...

Part Two: Playwrights and Plays

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5. A Thematic Introduction

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pp. 29-33

NOT SURPRISINGLY, many themes weave their way in and out of the 115-year history of modern Irish drama. Most pervading is the theme of nationalism, first emphatically introduced by Yeats and in the 1920s turned into a subject of satire and derision by O’Casey (for which some never forgave him). Modern Irish drama evolved...

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6. The Founders

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pp. 34-75

BORN ISABELLA AUGUSTA PERSSE, twelfth in a family of sixteen children, at Roxborough, County Galway, in the West of Ireland, and educated privately, Lady Gregory was a child of the Protestant Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, whose manorial estates in rural Ireland and the accompanying townhouses were sites of political...

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7. Other Early-Modern Dramatists

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pp. 76-86

OF COURSE, other playwrights besides Lady Gregory, Yeats, Shaw, and Synge contributed to the growth, development, and success of the Irish drama before O’Casey. Outstanding among these dramatists were Padraic Colum, T. C. Murray, George Fitzmaurice, Lennox Robinson, and George Shiels. Of these early writers, Padraic...

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8. The Sean O’Casey Era and After

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pp. 87-113

AFTER SYNGE, the next truly world-renowned dramatist to arise from the Irish theater was Sean O’Casey. His three tragicomedies, The Shadow of a Gunman (1923), Juno and the Paycock (1924), and The Plough and the Stars (1926), are centered on the then recent events of the War of Independence and the Civil War and are set in...

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9. Brian Friel and Other Modern Dramatists

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pp. 114-149

AT THIS WRITING (2010), Brian Friel is the most important living Irish dramatist, a world-famous playwright who has won the championship belt previously worn by Synge, O’Casey, and Beckett. But Ireland is also blessed with an extraordinary number of outstanding playwrights besides Brian Friel. The depth, range, and...

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10. Marina Carr and the New Voices

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pp. 150-165

Carr was born in the Midlands’ County Offaly, the daughter of the playwright and novelist Hugh Carr. Carr graduated from University College, Dublin, and has had a remarkable career, including serving as writer in residence at the Abbey Theatre and Trinity College, Dublin. She now lives in County Kerry...

Selected Critical Bibliography

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pp. 169-171


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p. 173


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pp. 175-186

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651307
E-ISBN-10: 0815651309
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632450
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632452

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: Second

OCLC Number: 759158764
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Modern Irish Drama

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Subject Headings

  • English drama -- 19th century -- History and criticism -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • English drama -- 20th century -- History and criticism -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • English drama -- Irish authors -- History and criticism -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Ireland -- In literature -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
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