The most distinctive work of recent times has been in the field of the drama. Pinero has improved its technique; Shaw has given it remarkable conversational brilliancy; Barrie has brought to it fancy and humor and sweetness; Galsworthy has used it to present social problems; Phillips has tried to restore to it the Elizabethan poetic spirit. The Celtic dramatists form a separate school. Lady Gregory, Yeats, and Synge have all written plays based on Irish life, folklore, or mythology. The plays of Synge, the greatest member of the group, reveal the universal primitive emotions of human beings.
Three distinctive moral influences in English literature specially impress us,—the call to strenuous manhood:—
“...this thing is God,
To be man with thy might,”
the increasing sympathy with all earth’s children:—
“Ye blessed creatures, I have
heard the call,
Ye to each other make,”
and the persistent expression of Anglo-Saxon faith. As we pause in our study, we may hear in the twentieth-century song of Alfred Noyes, the echo of the music from the loom of the Infinite Weaver:—
“Under the breath of laughter,
deep in the tide of tears,
I hear the loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years."
REFERENCE FOR FURTHER STUDY
Kennedy’s English Literature, 1880-1895 (Shaw, Wells, Fiona Macleod, Yeats).
Kelman’s Mr. Chesterton’s Point of View (in Among Famous Books).
Cooper’s Some English Story Tellers.
Conrad’s A Personal Record.
Phelps’s Essays on Modern Novelists (De Morgan).
Yeats’s Celtic Twilight.
Figgis’s Studies and Appreciations (Mr.
W.B. Yeats’s Poetry. The
Art of J.M. Synge.)
More’s Drift of Romanticism (Fiona Macleod).
Borsa’s The English Stage of To-day.
Jones’s (Henry Arthur) The Foundation of a National Drama: A Collection of Essays, Lectures, and Speeches, Delivered and Written in the Years 1896-1912.
Hamilton’s The Theory of the Theater.
Hunt’s The Play of To-day.
Hale’s Dramatists of To-day.
Henderson’s George Bernard Shaw: His Life and Works, 2 vols.
Chesterton’s George Bernard Shaw.
Weygandt’s Irish Plays and Playwrights (excellent).
Krans’s William Butler Yeats and the Irish Literary Revival.
Howe’s J.M. Synge: A Critical Study.
Yeats’s J.M. Synge and the Ireland of His Time (in The Cutting of an Agate, 1912).
Bickley’s J.M. Synge and the Irish Dramatic Movement.
Elton’s Living Irish Literature (in Modern Studies).