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  • Publication
    Gallous stories or dirty deeds? Representing parricide in J.M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World
    (Sage Publications, 2010-04) ;
    The most famous play in the history of Irish theater, J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World has been oddly neglected in sociology and criminology. This article examines the provenance of the violence around which Playboy’s dizzying text swirls, namely, a tragicomic parricide seemingly twice committed. In particular, we ask: is the text plausible? Though Synge’s authorial intentions are not open to complete reclamation, we explore first, his self-stated reliance on the actual cases of William Maley and James Lynchehaun and, second, whether the representation(s) of parricide in Playboy more or less accurately reflected the presence and character of parricide at the time the controversial play was being imagined and first performed in 1907. The culture wars and associated media frenzy over the play provide an ever-looming backcloth against which to interpret the meanings of intergenerational violence in a colonial society lurching towards national self-determination.
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