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The Well of the Saints

J. M. Synge

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .trusting the holy water with the likes of you?

MOLLY BYRNE. He was afeard to go a far way with the clouds is coming beyond, so he's gone up now through the thick woods to say a prayer at the crosses of Grianan, and he's coming on this road to the church.

TIMMY — [still astonished.] — And he's after leaving the holy water with the two of you? It's a wonder, surely. [Comes down left a little.]

MOLLY BYRNE. The lads told him no person could carry them things through the briars, and steep, slippy-feeling rocks he'll be climbing above, so he looked round then, and gave the water, and his big cloak, and his bell to the two of us, for young girls, says he, are the cleanest holy people you'd see walking the world. [Mary Doul goes near seat.]

MARY DOUL — [sits down, laughing to herself.] — Well, the Saint's a simple fellow, and it's no lie.

MARTIN DOUL — [leaning forward, holding out his hands.] &m. . . Read More

Community Reviews

While the drama is compelling when you find yourself identifying with one of Synge's characters, I found it mundane and boring for the most part. But this drama, like most in the era, probably relies on seeing the performance instead of reading alone in your house.

What a hilarious play. Christy is the "playboy of the western world" - in its first evocation by the Widow Quin its spoken slant and chafingly. As he gains his street cred (beyond the urban mythology growing around the killing of his father) he is heralded as town hero and engages in the lyricism...more

Only two plays in thus far (reading it for a class I'm auditing, before I go to the holy land, I hopeahopeahope) and they're both fantastic.

I have this thing with reading plays, probably everybody does, wherein the reading of the play creates this kind of Platonic ideal of what its perfect perfor...more

Six plays which deserve to be known better! All are relatively short (a couple of them are only one act long) but they are intense dramas, and instantly claimed a home in my memory. Synge's characters are largely the rural and peasant folk of country Ireland, many of them outcasts or dissenters o...more

Once, when midnight smote the air,
Eunuchs ran through Hell and met
On every crowded street to stare
Upon great Juan riding by:
Even like these to rail and sweat
Staring upon his sinewy thigh.

So Yeats says "On Those that hated 'The Playboy of the Western World,' 1907," by which it appears that if...more

"A vile and inhuman story told in the foulest language" was one verdict* on The Playboy of the Western World; "an unmitigated, protracted libel upon Irish peasant men, and worse still upon Irish girlhood" was another.** Synge's most famous play was, it seems, not the only one to attract condemnat...more

The Playboy of the Western World, Deirdre of the Sorrows, and Riders to the Sea are some of the finest twentieth century plays that I have ever read. Collectively, they demonstrate the plasticity of J. M. Synge as a playwright, for each represents a distinct sort of drama. Playboy is a three-act...more

JM Synge was one of a group of people who were part of the Celtic Revival that was operating in Ireland at the turn of the twentieth century not only did these writers help reclaim the Irish voice but along with Yeats who wrote the forward were new voices of the emerging modernist literature of t...more

Funny, inventive, insightful, important.