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Translations by Brian Friel
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Translations

by Brian Friel

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A real treat! I liked the way that the play works on different levels. The surface story, the historical, the social commentary about colonialism and the arrogance of renaming all of a country's landmarks, the idea of words as signposts, the way characters do & don't communicate even without words.

I have also listened to the BBC Radio adaptation which was marvelous. Perhaps I wouldn't have loved the written play as much if I didn't have those voices in my mind... ( )
  leslie.98 | Feb 3, 2016 |
Irish. Culture. Context of what language means. Review notes on Friel!
  bearlikelibrary | Sep 30, 2014 |
I'm not ordinarily a fan of plays, to be honest. I liked parts of this, but I'm not good at reading plays properly. Looking forward to discussion in class to shed some light on it. I might have a better review and possibly a different rating then. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
This play is set in Ireland, in the village of Baile Beag, County Donegal, in the early 1830s. A group of English surveyors has come to town with the goal of mapping the area and standardizing/Anglicizing the place names. The play explores the clash between Irish and English cultures and by extension traditional vs. modern lifestyles. Most of the action takes place at a hedge school run by an amiable if somewhat unorthodox/absent-minded teacher, where the students learn pretty much what they want to -- and looming in the future is a new national school with a standard curriculum.

One of the interesting things about this play is that, even though it is all written in English, you have to imagine that the Irish folks are all speaking Gaelic. This can be quite amusing during the scenes where Owen is interpreting for the English surveyors. I also liked reading the Gaelic place names, although of course they probably sound even better in a live production (I can only imagine how they sound). Another interesting aspect was how deeply some of the characters immersed themselves in older languages, such as Greek and Latin. The schoolmaster was forever sprinkling his statements with Latin and he would have his students conjugate verbs, explain etymology, and decline nouns. Fun for language buffs.

Another bit of trivia: the play's first production featured a young Liam Neeson. Would have liked to see that!

To sum up, read this if you want a little dose of Ireland and some food for thought about language and how we communicate. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jan 3, 2013 |
About the only thing I can say against this play is that I'm completely incapable of imagining it inside my head. The Celtic words are so strange that they continually drag me away from the play, as I try to figure out how they sound, and the fact that Friel uses English to represent two different languages doesn't help.

But none of this is any fault of the play, but merely a symptom of my own ignorance. In truth, the play is brilliant, addressing language as both a form of healing and as a corrupting and oppressive power. ( )
  jawalter | Nov 18, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571117422, Paperback)

The action takes place in late August 1833 at a hedge-school in the townland of Baile Beag, an Irish-speaking community in County Donegal. In a nearby field camps a recently arrived detachment of the Royal Engineers, making the first Ordnance Survey. For the purposes of cartography, the local Gaelic place names have to be recorded and rendered into English. In examining the effects of this operation on the lives of a small group, Brian Friel skillfully reveals the far-reaching personal and cultural effects of an action which is at first sight purely administrative.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:44 -0400)

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This volume of Brian Friel's plays contains Philadelphia; Here I Come!; The Freedom of the City; Living Quarters; Aristocrats; Faith Healer; and Translations.

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