Theatre and Residual Culture

J.M. Synge and Pre-Christian Ireland

  • Christopher Collins

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Christopher Collins
    Pages 1-23
  3. Christopher Collins
    Pages 57-73
  4. Christopher Collins
    Pages 75-111
  5. Christopher Collins
    Pages 113-171
  6. Christopher Collins
    Pages 173-200
  7. Christopher Collins
    Pages 201-258
  8. Christopher Collins
    Pages 259-269
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 271-301

About this book


This book considers the cultural residue from pre-Christian Ireland in Synge’s plays and performances. By dramatising a residual culture in front of a predominantly modern and political Irish Catholic middle class audience, the book argues that Synge attempted to offer an alternative understanding of what it meant to be “modern” at the beginning of the twentieth century. The book draws extensively on Synge’s archive to demonstrate how pre-Christian residual culture informed not just how he wrote and staged pre-Christian beliefs, but also how he thought about an older, almost forgotten culture that Catholic Ireland desperately wanted to forget. Each of Synge’s plays is considered in an individual chapter, and they identify how Synge’s dramaturgy was informed by pre-Christian beliefs of animism, pantheism, folklore, superstition and magical ritual.


Irish Catholicism twentieth century Ireland cultural materialism cultural memory cultural imperialism twentieth-century Ireland Playboy of the Western World political theatre biographical theatre Irish playwright magical realism Irish folklore Irish heritage early religion rural Ireland paganism anti-structural culture

Authors and affiliations

  • Christopher Collins
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EnglishUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information