Article Title

Transplanting the Work of “that rooted man”: The Reception of John Millington Synge’s Drama in Hungary


Maria Kurdi


Early in the twentieth century, when John Millington Synge’s plays were shown at the Abbey Theatre Hungarian artists searched for continental models and information about Irish literature as distinct from the English literary traditions did not reach them before World War I. That event and its aftermath in terms of political, social and identity problems re-awakened national feelings and strengthened Hungarians’ sensitivity to the troubled historical experience of other small nations, resulting in an interest in decolonizing Ireland and its art. The present study introduces the reader to the Hungarian reception of Synge, surveying and analysing a selection of critical readings and reviews of his plays and their Hungarian productions since the 1920s to the revival of The Playboy of the Western World in a new translation in 2004. Within this framework it is discussed how the focus of various interpretations on page and stage was shifting in the context of major political and socio-cultural changes throughout the latter half of the century, while attention is paid also to the efforts of Hungarian theatres to recreate an Irish atmosphere as well as effects of the Syngean comedy in their productions. Finally, a brief comparison of the two Hungarian renderings of The Playboy from 1960 and 2004 by Tamás Ungvári and Ádám Nádasdy respectively highlights certain issues and strategies that underpin their textual practices of domesticating the original to meet audience needs.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.