The Technological Sublime in Edwardian Ireland1
This chapter begins by noting that John Millington Synge’s experience of pre-modern rural Irish cultures was mediated by modern communications technologies: the typewriter and the camera. The typewriter, while interposing a mechanism between writer and the written word, also allowed Synge to write more quickly than was possible by hand, thus bringing the speed of writing closer to the speed of composition. Likewise, the camera effectively froze moments of time, thereby disrupting the linearity of temporal experience. Placing these observations in the context of wider disruptions of the experience of time and space that were occurring as Synge was writing in the 1890s and early 1900s, the essay concludes that the characteristic disruptions of the experience of temporality and spatiality in Synge’s plays and prose have as much to do with engagement with modern technologies of communication as with encounters with pre-modern cultures.
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