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Book Title: The Plough and the Stars|
The author of the book: Seán O'Casey
Edition: Samuel French Ltd
The size of the: 842 KB
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Loaded: 1069 times
Reader ratings: 6.6
Date of issue: February 9th 2011
ISBN 13: 9780573013447
Format files: PDF
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The Playboy of the Western World (1907) and The Plough and the Stars (1926) may be the two greatest of all Irish plays, and each sparked a riot at the Abbey Theatre. Could this be more than coincidence? William Butler Yeats seems to think so. Yeats, who had summoned the police for riot #1, thus admonished the rowdies of riot #2: "You have disgraced yourselves again; is this to be the recurring celebration of the arrival of Irish genius?"
Although it is difficult today to understand “The Playboy Riots,” the “Plough” riot still makes perfect sense. Three years after the end of the polarizing Civil War, six weeks before the tenth anniversary of the Easter Rising, Sean O’Casey presented a dark and dispirited view of the 1916 rebellion. He shows us how the denizens of a Dublin tenement—the “shabby genteel” and the laborers, the socialist agitators and the ne’er-do-wells—are affected by the chaos of Easter Monday 1916. The consequences range from the mere disruptive to the tragic, and—except for an excellent opportunity for looting—no benefits come to the average slum-dweller from all this revolutionizing. The fine nationalist rhetoric spouted by “The Man in the Window” (a pastiche of speeches by Padraig Pearse) seems hollow in comparison with the suffering we see these average Dubliners endure.
O’Casey knew about tenement woes, for, although he was born of a ‘good” Protestant family, it was a genteel family of the shabby kind: he was one of thirteen children, and his father died when he was six. He worked at various jobs—a seller of newspapers, a railway worker—and later became a secretary of Larkin's Irish Citizen Army. He did not begin writing seriously until his middle thirties, when he was prompted by the death of William Ashe, a hunger striker. The Plough and the Stars debuted when O’Casey was forty six.
This play has much in common with with its “riot buddy” The Playboy of the Western World: like its elder sibling, it possesses a poetic language rooted in everyday speech and the ability to shift—fluidly, seamlessly—from the sentimental to the comic to the tragic. To these valuable qualities O'Casey adds--at least in Plough—a variety of tonal effects, a scope and a structure worthy of the mature Shakespeare. In its historical sophistication and comprehensive humanity, it merits comparison with that great epic Henry IV.
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Read information about the authorSeán O'Casey was a major Irish dramatist and memoirist. A committed socialist, he was the first Irish playwright of note to write about the Dublin working classes.
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