John Millington Synge and the Irish Theatre

By Maurice Bourgeois | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
CONTINENTAL WANDER-YEARS

LET it be observed at the outset that Synge seldom told his family and friends of his experiences abroad,1 and that it is only from scattered allusions in his non-dramatic writings -- especially The Aran Islands -- and from personal and private sources that we are able to derive some outline of his peregrinations on the Continent, which are here recorded for the first time.

Being, as we have just seen, a musician of no mean order not only in theory but in practice -- he had attempted original composition -- Synge first intended to train himself for the musical profession, which led to his going to Germany, where he spent thirteen months in all. He first stayed in Darmstadt and Coblentz, where he pursued his violin studies, and then (in the spring of 1894) at Würzburg on the Main.2 In the latter city he perfected his technical

____________________
1
"He had wandered a lot about Europe. He was silent about all that. I never heard him mention his early life . . ." ( John Masefield, "John M. Synge", Contemporary Review, April, 1911). Synge had travelled a great deal in Italy . . . and in Germany and in France, but he only occasionally spoke to me about these places ( Jack B. Yeats, With Synge in Connemara, ap. W. B. Yeats, Synge and the Ireland of his Time, p. 42).
2
He mentions Würzburg in The Aran Islands ( iii. 31). Passing references to Germany and the Germans will be found iii. 21, 57, 170, 179, 180, 244 and iv. 238.

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