The Aran Islands
by John M. Synge
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A travelogue of the Aran Islands with beautiful woodcut illustrations.
In 1897, or thereabouts, as Mr. Yeats said in his interesting introduction to "The Well of the Saints," John Synge was eking out a scanty subsistence in Paris, endeavouring to support himself by literature, with no very definite idea as to his aims, but full of suppressed vitality awaiting an adequate outlet for expression. It was then his ambition, native Irishman though he was, to become a competent critic of French literature, from the French point of view. In this somewhat hazy state of mind, Mr. Yeats found him, and, according to his story; persuaded him to abandon his immediate and somewhat unprofitable critical purpose, and to turn to account the creative impulse, which had hitherto been lying dormant within him. The poet himself was fresh from a trip to the Aran Islands, and the rude but healthy atmosphere of them and of their people had taken possession of a nature ever keen to realise and appropriate new sensations, particularly those which carried with them a deep and noble spiritual import. How magnetic their appeal to the stranger must be was never more fully illustrated than in the intensity of the impression which Mr. Yeats had carried away with him from the islands and communicated to Synge, – though the result, as the poet tells me, of but a single day's stay on Aranmor.