By R. McDonald
In Tragedy and Irish Writing McDonald considers the tradition of ache, loss, and guilt within the paintings of Synge, O'Casey, and Beckett. He applies exterior principles of tragedy to the 3 dramatists and in addition discerns specific different types of tragedy inside their very own paintings. whereas alert to the genuine transformations one of the 3, the ebook additionally strains universal topics and preoccupations. It identifies a clash among shape and content material, among heightened language and debased fact, because the hallmark of Irish tragedy.
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Extra resources for Tragedy and Irish Literature: Synge, O'Casey, Beckett
Tragedy happens to princes, not to ‘you or me’. Its rarity is part of its value, though para- Introduction: Tragic Value and Tragic Loss 19 doxically it is also somehow ‘typical’, if not at all average; communally experienced but never merely common. The denial of tragic signiﬁcance to death in a road accident is the classic schoolmasterly instance of the effort to defend the word from debasement. Perhaps the most sophisticated modern member of this school is Stephen Dedalus. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen disputes the use of ‘tragedy’ to describe the accidental death of a young girl in a hansom accident: ‘The reporter called it a tragic death.
The spectator is uplifted and puriﬁed by the transﬁgurative powers of the lyricism. Refracted through an aesthetic prism, the terrible vision mutates into exquisite illusion. Yet even without the Nietzschean emphasis on aesthetic exhilaration or lyrical rapture, even without the transforming powers of poetic language, there is a sense in which the representation of tragedy always counters the object represented. In tragedy the simple act of concretization and conceptualization palliates the misery depicted.
Though prevalent in the Irish historical imagination, all three dramatists will react against this tendency, albeit in different ways. Oliver MacDonagh sees a pattern of ritualistic failure embedded in the Irish historical sense: a past seen in terms of subjection and struggle, seen as a pageant or tournament of heroic defeat, is one of the roads towards a fundamental distrust of or even disbelief in achievement … the characteristic Irish time-frame inclines Irishmen to a repetitive view of Introduction: Tragic Value and Tragic Loss 29 history and that such a view inclines them – perhaps in defensive wariness and from fear of failure – to prize the moral as against the actual, and the bearing of witness as against success.
Tragedy and Irish Literature: Synge, O'Casey, Beckett by R. McDonald