Daring to be European: Synge & Parisian Ireland
In 1893 controversial playwright and Abbey Theatre director John Millington Synge travelled to Germany in hopes of becoming a professional musician. Diverging from this path, he moved to Paris in 1895 where he took classes in a range of subjects including comparative phonetics, French literature, and Celtic civilisation. Synge spent several winters in the French capital before returning to Ireland to focus his energies on the Abbey Theatre. This lecture traces the young Irishman's movements in Paris shedding light on the various people he encountered, the networks he was part of, and the ideas to which he was exposed. Paying particular attention to his engagement with fellow Irish men and women during this time, it advances that Synge's engagement in the current of European thought at the fin-de-siècle had a determinative effect on the nature of his return to Ireland in the early years of the twentieth-century and thus contributed to his counter-conventional aesthetic.