J. M. Synge and the Politics of Place
Synge’s work is not easily recruitable to the kind of notional and national project envisioned by Yeats. One of the most striking aspects of his work is his intense engagement with the microscopic detail and texture of place which is accompanied by an almost nonchalant disregard for major historical events. Synge’s singular and intense engagements with place is in keeping with a wider intellectual rapprochement that was taking place in the European academy at the end of the nineteenth century between the natural and human sciences. In his Wicklow essays Synge manages to avoid validating the idea of a spiritual immersion in place by locating vitality in nomadism and geographical mobility rather than in more conservative ideas of ‘contact with the soil’.
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