By Nicholas Grene
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Extra resources for Synge: A Critical Study of the Plays
He valued it accordingly, not only as it was archaic, traditional and picturesque , but as it showed 'the thing itself, unaccommodated man'. Aran certainly affords little 'accommodation' to the men who live there. ' A bare starving rock' the Saint calls it in The Well of the Saints, and it is almost incredible that people should survive "in the terrain Synge describes: Aran came in sight. A dreary rock appeared at first sloping up from the sea into the fog; then as we drew nearer a coastguard station and the village.
On Aran in Synge's time, an industry which was almost equally laborious was the production of kelp, the fertiliser made from burned sea-weed: The work needed to form a ton of kelp is considerable. The seaweed is collected from the rocks after the storms of autumn and winter, dried on fine days, and then made up into a rick, where it is left till the beginning of June. It is then burnt in low kilns on the shore, an affair that takes from twelve to twenty-four hours of continuous hard work. (Prose p.
Dirane Jack the Giant Killer and Perseus melanges' (MS 4419 f. 66v). ) His first published article, which appeared in The New Ireland Review in November 1898, was 'A Story from Inishmaan', in which he glosses another of Pat Dirane's tales with comments on its origins in European folklore. 22 Synge: A Critical Study of the Plays Yet from the start Synge had literary ambitions for using the Aran experience; he had no notion of produdng a semi-scientific collection of folklore as methodical as those of Le Braz.