Páipéir Brian Friel

Has language failed these people?

The idea that words are not enough was something that followed Friel through his writing career, and informed many of his most well-known plays. In Translations (1980), for example, Friel drew on George Steiner’s After Babel (1975) and In Bluebeard’s Castle (1971?) to explore the relationship between linguistic erosion and cultural collapse. Another major influence in this respect was Denis Donoghue, whose The Arts Without Mystery (1982?) introduced Friel to the idea of explanatory language as a way of trying to manage the inexplicable or mysterious, with dance as one of the ways in which people can attest to things they can’t explain. In this note towards Dancing at Lughnasa (1990), Friel is again teasing out the implications of the inadequacies, failures, and even betrayals of language.

From MS 37,104/1, National Library of Ireland; copyright Brian Friel Estate, reproduced by permission.


If dancing is the alternative to language, has language been inadequate for these people? Has language failed these people? Has language betrayed these people? [see May 21]

Take each character in turn and assess each life in that light.

Rose: Wellingtons – bag over head – bringing in turf.

(Earns 2 sweets – bulls-eyes?) Does she save these for Gerry?

Aggie: Knitting

[Christina: Knitting – stopping – MIRROR – ?]

Kate:   Coming in from school.


Fr. Jack – there  - arrived.

Maggie – ?

A narrator figure mustn’t be considered unless he is personally involved in the play – if only as a product-victim of what happens on stage.

If Gerry and Christina have a child and aren’t married, perhaps they agree to marry before he goes to Spain ??

Don't anticipate the ending Teagmháil Chruthaitheach le Páipéir Brian Friel

Is cartlann de chartlann é an taispeántas seo; agus dála gach cartlann mhaith, níl aon bhealach ceart chun é a léamh. Lean ort ag cliceáil ar na rudaí a gcuireann tú spéis iontu, agus ná bíodh imní ort má théann tú amú rud beag ar an mbealach. Más mian leat do bhealach ar ais a aimsiú, seiceáil an t-innéacs sa roghchlár. 

Arna chur i láthair i gcomhpháirtíocht le Leabharlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann


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