His first public gesture was to stand alone, by denial taking action. There must have been other students of the Royal University who on 8 May 1899 refused to sign a letter of protest against Yeatss The Countess Cathleen - a protest foreshadowing both in its confused argument and mixed emotions the objections eight years later to Synges Playboy of the Western World - but it was Joyces abstention that was noticed.  He preferred to make his own statements. He delivered his first broadside, Drama and Life, eight months later before the universitys Literary and Historical Society, in it raising drama from particularity to the universal and setting Wagner and Ibsen above the now exhausted theatres of the past. Standing above the snow line, these new archangels would draw for subject and sustenance on even the most commonplace, the deadest among the living for the new world drama of the soul.  On that same day, 20 January 1900, Joyce received word that the prestigious English Fortnightly Review would consider a review of Ibsens new play When We Dead Awaken. Ibsens New Drama, published on 1 April, earned by way of William Archer the benediction of the Master himself. 
But although unfamiliar to most of his impressed classmates, the names of Wagner and Ibsen had already been much conjured with by Joyces elders of the Irish Literary Theatre. Both Edward Martyn and his cousin George Moore had made their pilgrimage to Bayreuth, even before the publication of Shaws The Perfect Wagnerite; one of Moores closest friends was the editor of La Revue wagnérienne, Édouard Dujardin, whom Joyce would have cause to acknowledge later. Even the unmusical Yeats found much of value in the depth and breadth of structure, symbolism, emotional appeal and theory expressed in Wagners work. For all the founders of the Irish dramatic movement - including Yeatss theosophist supporter Annie Horniman who would later provide a building for the elucidation of Yeatss dramatic theories - Wagners Bayreuth had become a symbol for the revolutionary theatre they hoped to establish in Dublin.  
Ibsen, too, had already been acknowledged a force to reckon with. Moore had written enthusiastically of the impact of Ibsen on contemporary theatre before turning his attention to Irish concerns; his articles in 1890 on Antoines production of Ghosts at the Théatre Libre in Paris had helped initiate the founding of Londons Independent Theatre and he was anxious to spread the gospel further. Here also he shared the platform with Martyn, whose play The Heather Field, closely modelled after Ibsen, had been performed with The Countess Cathleen in May 1899.  Moores introduction to Martyns play, published the previous February, spoke eloquently of the hero Carden Tyrrells hopeless dreams of reclaiming the heather field as the eternal aspiration of man to the ideal, dreams in conflict with reality yet seductive in their attractiveness.  Martyns own notes on Ibsen also suggest that in the conflict between Carden Tyrrell and his uncomprehending, unsympathetic wife he was attempting to emulate what he admired in Little Eyolf:
For the second season of the Irish Literary Theatre, in February 1900, Martyns psychological drama Maeve was followed by The Bending of the Bough, a revision by Moore, with some help from Yeats, of Martyns The Tale of a Town. Although less politically biting and more generalized in characterization than Martyns original, Moores play still betrayed Ibsenite origins in its topicality and the satire of self-seeking, hypocritical place-hunters.  Moores preface tells of arts flight from England, France, Germany and Russia; and when it leaves Norway it must find another small nation, one which has not yet achieved its destiny. Ireland alone in the western world was arts likely refuge.  In April 1900 Yeats published a third and final issue of Beltaine, the organ of the Irish Literary Theatre, in which he proclaimed triumphantly, We have brought the literary drama to Ireland, and it has become a reality.  But although almost every public comment by its founders had cited the example of Ibsen, unlike its sister movements in England and on the continent the Irish Literary Theatre did not offer any of his plays. Yeats,  like Synge (who had read Ibsen in English, French and German translations), continued to believe that Ibsens characters were imprisoned in their commonplace circumstances and everyday language. 
During the summer of 1900 Joyce wrote his first play, A Brilliant Career (which to William Archers astonishment the author dedicated to his own soul) had a hero who like Moores resembled Dr. Stockman in An Enemy of the People, and, like The Heather Field, told the story of an unwise marriage. Richard Ellmann tells us that about this time he also wrote a verse play called Dream Stuff and was writing poetry strongly influenced by Yeats. Neither play and little of the poetry survives, although we do have Archers lengthy, puzzled response to the gigantic breadth of treatment of the second and third acts of A Brilliant Career: If you had a symbolic purpose, I own it escapes me … [but] I am no great hand at reading hieroglyphics.  Then in January 1901 Joyce himself went on stage, playing the stereotyped villain in an amateur production of his friend Margaret Sheehys comedy, Cupids Confidante; for years Joyce treasured the complimentary remarks concerning his performance, a revelation of amateur acting, by the drama critic for the Evening Telegraph.  (Possibly because of this encouragement, he later briefly contemplated a career as an actor, and chose as stage name George Brown, in tribute to his hero Giordano Bruno. )
By March of that year this self-styled defiant, hotheaded stripling had learned enough Dano-Norwegian to send birthday greetings on Ibsens seventy-third birthday; but while kneeling in homage, Joyce was already looking past Ibsen to the future:
By 23 July 1901 he had completed the translation of Vor Sonnenaufgang, a harsh, naturalistic play by Gerhart Hauptmann; the manuscript of Before Sunrise clearly betrays an inadequate knowledge of German, but in the passages of country dialect there is a glimmer of linguistic flexibility and feeling for idiosyncratic dialogue. That same summer he translated a more recent play by Hauptmann, Michael Kramer; the manuscript has not survived, but in style and subject matter the play would doubtless have been more  congenial.  Clearly he had interpreted the challenge of the Irish Literary Theatre experiment in terms more sympathetic to Martyn and Moore than to Yeats: in an article published by the Daily Express in February 1899, Martyn had already suggested that in the modern drama of Germany could be found Ibsens successor, selecting Hauptmanns dream play, Hannele, as example. 
But in October 1901 Yeats announced in Samhain (the successor to Beltaine ) plans for the third and final season of the Irish Literary Theatre - a play by Douglas Hyde in the Irish language, and a collaboration by Yeats and Moore based on the Irish legend of Diarmuid and Grania. Angered by what he interpreted as a deliberate rejection of Europeanization, Joyce responded with his second broadside, The Day of the Rabblement. This was published privately in November 1901 together with Francis Skeffingtons essay advocating equal status for women; both had been turned down by a new university magazine, St. Stephens. Eighty-five copies were quickly distributed around Dublin, Joyce taking special care that George Moore (and doubtless Martyn, George Russell and Yeats) received one. The rabblement was, of course, the Irish version of Ibsens trolls, the most belated race in Europe, the popular will. Beltaine, Joyce complained, had spoken of producing European masterpieces but none had appeared; yet the presentation of Ibsen, Tolstoy or Hauptmann was essential to provide technical examples to a nation which never advanced so far as a miracle-play. It was insufferable that, in a country which had no official censorship, the directors should yield to the placid and intensely moral audience. Of the artists, Yeats (though a talented poet and prose writer) is an aesthete with a floating will who had now obviously given in to his treacherous instinct of adaptability; neither Martyn nor Moore could be considered an original writer and Martyn in particular lacked breadth and distinction despite his fleeting similarity to Strindberg; Moore, once a fine novelist, is now outdated. The future belongs to the true successors of the dying Ibsen: the author of Michael Kramer and an unnamed - but readily identifiable - further minister already knocked at the door. 
Too late, however, for the Irish Literary Theatre. Yeats returned to London, and we have no record of his reaction to The Day of the Rabblement. Moore acknowledged that the essay was preposterously clever, but his influence - which was dependent on Martyns - was waning; within a year he and Yeats would quarrel over the ownership of the plot to Where There is Nothing.  Martyns An  Enchanted Sea, written in emulation of The Lady from the Sea and more powerful than his dream play Maeve, had been ignored; by 1903 he was sufficiently disillusioned to set up in opposition to the movement he had helped establish, hiring a professional company which, directed by Moore, performed The Heather Field and A Dolls House in June and, the following year, An Enchanted Sea. Martyn never referred publicly to Joyce, but a heavy-handed satire of Yeats, Lady Gregory, Moore and himself, which expresses charges similar to Joyces, was published in 1907 - Romulus and Remus, or The Makers of Delights. In one of his later plays, The Dream Physician, Joyce himself appears, thinly disguised, in the sympathetic role of Otho Gerrard, a flamboyant idealistic poet longing for the unattainable Moon while comparing everyone elses foibles to his own magnificent intellect; significantly, Martyn has written himself into the play also - as Otho Gerrards father.  In 1919 Joyce unwittingly repaid the compliment by persuading the English Players of Zurich to produce The Heather Field, in his programme note writing approvingly of this accomplished musician and man of letters who, as a follower of the school of Ibsen, occupied a unique position in Ireland 
Meanwhile, new energies were directing the theatre movement even further inward and away from Europe. George Russell (AE), until now only an interested observer, encouraged the Fay brothers who had produced Hydes Irish play The Twisting of the Rope; he contributed a dramatization of yet another Irish saga. Lady Gregory, now back at Coole, was cautiously advising Yeats to throw his weight - and their recently completed play, based on Yeatss dream - behind this new indigenous activity. Maud Gonne offered to perform. And so on 2 April 1902, W.G. Fays Irish National Dramatic Company clearly emerged as successor to the Irish Literary Theatre with the presentation, under the auspices of Inghinide na hEireann (The Daughters of Erin), of Deirdre by Russell and Kathleen ni Houlihan by Yeats and Lady Gregory. The forces of cosmopolitanism had been routed; new voices continued to swell from that very popular will Joyce had warned against: your popular devil is more dangerous than your vulgar devil.  One of the most effective voices belonged to Frank Fay, who in The United Irishman of 2 November 1901, had questioned Joyces claim in The Day of the Rabblement that neither the Irish Literary Theatre nor the Irish Language movement was popular. Mr. Joyce accuses the Irish Literary Theatre of not keeping its promise to produce European  masterpieces. If he will read Samhain he will see that the Irish Literary Theatre still hopes to do that. That it has not done so, is mainly a matter of money.  Time would disprove that promise also.
One night early in August 1902, Joyce selected George Russells door to knock upon. After a lengthy discussion of mysticism, a dismissal of economics, a repetition of his complaints against Yeats - and by implication of AEs own surrender to the rabblement - he read some of his poems, and left. The generous but shrewdly cautious Russell wrote to a friend on August 15: I wouldnt be his Messiah for a thousand. million pounds. He would be always criticizing the bad taste of his diety. AE next wrote to Lady Gregory about his young genius: The first of a new race called on me a couple of days ago. He wanted to see whether I was he who was to come or was he to look for another. He is going to look for another, but he sat with me up to 4.00 a.m. telling me of the true inwardness of things from his point of view. … He is too superior for me. I belong to a lower order of thought than this spectre of fastidiousness. And finally, to Yeats, who was also at Coole: He is an extremely clever boy who belongs to your clan. more than to mine and more still to himself. But he has all the intellectual equipment, culture and education which all our other clever friends here lack…. I think you would find this youth of 21 with his assurance and self-confidence rather interesting.  By October Yeats and Lady Gregory were both in Dublin for the productions of W.G. Fays Irish National Dramatic Company, which included their new farce The Pot of Broth, revivals of Deirdre and Kathleen ni Houlihan, and, as added attraction, Florence Farr chanting to the psaltery accompanied by Yeatss explanations. It is uncertain whether Yeats or Lady Gregory met Joyce first, but certainly by the end of October Russells role as avatar was over. The meeting between Yeats and Joyce has been revised in the telling many times, but it seems likely that the younger man did indeed suggest that it was too late for his influence to have any effect; it is equally plausible that the older poet was impressed both by Joyces pretentiousness and his joyous vitality. 
It was, however, Lady Gregory who most clearly understood Joyces invitation. On 4 November she entertained him, W. B. Yeats and John Butler Yeats to dinner; on 15 November she noted in her diary, 
She wrote to John Synge on Aran, to Yeats in London,  to other friends in Paris and London, and recommended that he contact Ernest Longworth, editor of the Daily Express; she asked him to consider studying medicine at Trinity College instead, and advised him on selling his poems to magazines. Joyce was able to report on 1 December that he had seen Synge, and would be writing reviews for Longworth. Yeats wrote that he had duly entertained Joyce in London, taken him about to various editors in the hope of finding further commissions, and introduced him to Arthur Symons. Lady Gregory wrote to Joyce again with further advice and addresses, to which he replied, Paris amuses me very much, but I quite understand why there is no poetry in French literature; for to create poetry out of French life is impossible. 
After spending Christmas in Dublin, he returned to Paris by way of London, where he saw Lady Gregory and more editors.
He returned her kindness with the same insouciant objectivity he accorded all other assistance: I sent in my review of Lady Gregorys book a week ago, he wrote to his mother on 20 March 1903. I do not know if Longworth put it in as I sent it: the review was very severe. I shall write to Lady Gregory one of these days.  A week later the review appeared, over Joyces initials, of Lady Gregorys Poets and Dreamers. The review damned with less than faint praise: wherever it treats of the folk, [her book] sets forth in the fulness of its senility a class of mind which Mr. Yeats has set forth with such delicate scepticism in his happiest book, The Celtic Twilight. Of her translations of four one-act plays by Douglas Hyde he is even more direct in his disapproval, The dwarf-drama (if one may use that term) is a form of art which is improper and ineffectual  Citing no evidence, Stanislaus Joyce reports that Lady Gregory was much annoyed by the review, and in Ulysses Malachi Mulligan informs Stephen that Longworth is awfully sick about it. But Longworth continued to provide Joyce with books for review, and  Lady Gregory in a letter to Synge enjoys the irony of Longworths misplaced kindness in his selection of reviewer.  Twenty years later she in turn would ask a favour, and again Joyce would reply in form:
Her memoir, which was not published, recalls merely, He was a handsome, petulant boy. I believed in his genius. 
During the week of March 6 to 13, 1903, Synge was also in Paris; after a lengthy flirtation he had thrown his lot in with the Irish literary movement and was selling up the few belongings which had furnished his small apartment on the rue dAssas. On his return to Dublin he also dutifully reported to Lady Gregory his impressions of Joyce:
Later Joyce would recall their meetings in Ulysses: Harsh gargoyle face that warred against me over our mess of hash of lights in rue Saint-André-des-Arts. In words of words for words, palabras.  Joyces portrayal is more accurate than Synges deliberately off-hand report to Lady Gregory. He and Joyce met frequently, and Stanislaus writes that the two had many quarrelsome discussions  … about language, style, poetry, the drama, and literature in general. … He was inclined to take the Irish language revival seriously, and when he was at a loss for an argument, was inclined to lose his temper, too. When that happened Synges angry face and wagging beard used to send my brother into kinks of laughter that made Synge still angrier.  Joyce later described Synge as a great lump of a man who could not be argued with. It is said that he was a silent man, but he was not. They disagreed over how to spend their time together: when Joyce suggested picknicking in the Parc de St. Cloud, Synge objected to spending the holiday like any bourgeois.  They argued over style, Synge dismissing Joyces carefully culled solecisms.  Joyce told him of his aesthetic theories: Synge responded that he had a mind like Spinoza. Finally, Synge showed him Riders to the Sea, which Joyce had already heard praised by Yeats and Symons. I am glad to say that ever since I read it I have been riddling it mentally till it has not a sound spot, he wrote with anxious relief to Stanislaus, adding, thanks be to God Synge isnt an Aristotelian.  He objected to the catastrophe being brought about by an animal rather than by the sea, and criticized it, as he had Hydes plays, for being dwarf-drama.  Synge, naturally, disagreed, but may well have had Joyces Aristotelian strictures in mind when he defended The Playboy four years later with the argument, the story - in its essence - is probable given the psychic state of the locality.  But Joyce was sufficiently impressed by Riders to the Sea to quote Mauryas speeches as examples of the musicality of language, and to translate the play into Italian, even visiting the Abbey Theatre in 1909 to gain the original music for the keen.  Nora Joyce performed the part of Maurya in the English Players production in Zurich in 1918, and Joyces programme notes relented slightly with the admission, Whether a brief tragedy be possible or not (a point on which Aristotle had some doubts) the ear and the heart mislead one gravely if this brief scene from poor Aran be not the work of a tragic poet.  Synge noted in his dairy an appointment with Joyce in Dublin in September 1903, but it was perhaps inevitable that the two never became friends.
By the time Joyce and Synge returned to Dublin in 1903, Synge to the comfort of his mothers orderly home in Kingstown, Joyce to his dying mothers bedside, the metamorphosis of Irish Literary Theatre into The Irish National Theatre Society was complete. The company had established a rehearsal hall in a back street next to a butchers shop, which became the centre of literary activity for  many poets and would-be playwrights. A visit to London in May 1903 under the auspices of the Irish Literary Society had reaped high praise for both plays and players from some of the most influential critics, including a lengthy rave review by A.B. Walkley in The Times Literary Supplement. In October 1903 Synges one-act comedy The Shadow of the Glen was produced midst some notoriety; the following February saw the production at long last of Riders to the Sea. When the company made a second visit to London in March 1904, Synges two plays earned even greater praise from Joyces former adviser, William Archer. Despite his disdain for the mummers, Joyce and his new pal, the poet, wit and medical student Oliver St. John Gogarty, were frequent visitors at rehearsals and first readings, including that of Synges next play, The Well of the Saints. It was at a rehearsal of one of Synges plays that Joyce disgraced himself by arriving so drunk that he collapsed in front of the narrow entrance door and horrified some of the actresses. Even the discreet Synge recalled the incident in a history of the movement prepared for the Manchester Guardian, and this is obviously the basis for the exchange between Buck Mulligan and Stephen in Ulysses:
But Joyce was watching closer auxiliaries-in-rebellion succumb to the new dramatic movement. Stanislaus recorded in his diary of The Shadow of the Glen,
Even Gogarty was turning coat: he refused to sign George Moores attack on the theatre productions in the new journal Dana, and had become so friendly with Yeats that at the older poets suggestion  some time later contemplated a translation of Oedipus for the company.  When another young journeyman poet-dramatist, Padraic Colum (whose early work Joyce had dismissed as rotten from the foundation up), was selected for financial assistance by an American millionaire, Joyce walked to Celbridge and back offering himself and his schemes as worthy of patronage, but was rejected.  AE suggested he write stories for the Irish Homestead, thereby initiating the composition of Dubliners as well as providing some necessary funds, but did not include Joyces poems in New Songs, an anthology of his Dublin protégés published in March 1904  He had better luck with Dana, whose editors paid him the only fee they ever gave for a poem, but that good fortune, like the journal itself, was short-lived. Recalling Florence Farrs and Yeatss experiments with the psaltery, he even tried unsuccessfully to persuade Arnold Dolmetsch to make him a lute with which he would coast the south of England from Falmouth to Margate, singing old English songs.  In each case Joyces response was predictably aggrieved.
By 27 August 1904, even before Joyces brief sojourn in the Martello tower at Sandycove, Gogarty wrote to a friend in Oxford, I have broken with Joyce, his want of generosity became to me inexcusable, he lampooned AE, Yeats, Colurn and others to whom he was indebted in many ways.  This was Joyces third broadside, The Holy Office, which he had submitted to St. Stephens magazine in response to the editors request for something new. Combining his aesthetic argument and stance of the rebel angel with satirical thrusts which were Swiftian in their scatology, Joyce attacked not only the mumming company but all the Camden Street hangers-on, including Gogarty. I am an enemy of the ignobleness and slavishness of people. … We all wear masks, he declared to his new companion Nora Barnacle; in this last public thrust at his literary compatriots whose cowardice and squeamishness prevented them from open defiance of the trolls, he would perform the holy office of Katharsis. 
Lack of funds to release his poem from the printers prevented Joyce from distributing his attack until a year later, when he was in Trieste. But it is likely that even if he had, this would not have prevented him from turning to the mummers for assistance in his flight from Ireland. Lady Gregory telegraphed her good wishes and £5; he also appealed with some success to Colum, George Roberts, and Seumas OSullivan. Yeats repeated his offer of assistance in finding review work and publication of his poems, but did not offer  any money. A graver rejection was his refusal to consider Joyces translations of Hauptmann, criticizing their ineptness and pointing out that the theatre had no funds either. Later on of course we hope to be able to pay. Nor do I think it very likely we could attempt German work at present. We must get the ear of our public with Irish work.  The implications rankled; two years later Joyce wrote to his brother, If it is not far-fetched to say that my action, and that of men like Ibsen &c., is a virtual intellectual strike I would call such people as Gogarty and Yeats and Colm the blacklegs of literature. Because they have tried to substitute us, to serve the old idols at a lower rate when we refused to do so for a higher.  His relationship with Yeats would follow the same formal, arms-length pattern until Yeatss death: Yeats refused to allow publication of the Italian translation Joyce and Nicolo Vidacovich made of The Countess Cathleen because Yeats preferred a later revision of his play, yet he was responsible for introducing Joyces work to Ezra Pound and campaigned on Joyces behalf for financial assistance from various public and not-so-public purses; Joyce accepted these gestures and, later, homage, but refused at least two invitations to Ireland and membership of the Irish Academy of Letters, all initiated by Yeats. 
Synge was the most difficult of the mummers to exorcise, despite his early death. From his remote perch on the continent, Joyce had anxiously observed the notoriety accompanying The Playboy of the Western World on its first production in January 1907. This whole affair has upset me, he wrote to Stanislaus. I feel like a man in a house who hears a row in the street and voices he knows shouting but cant get up to see what the hell is going on. It has put me off the story I was going to write - to wit, The Dead. Could it be that him who sober all the day / Mixes a naggin in his play had in truth turned to stronger stuff, unnoticed and unpresaged? Synge had publicly defied the trolls, asserting his right as an artist to write about anything he chose. Perhaps, too, it needled that Yeatss critical judgment may have been more accurate than Joyces own, in which case rejection of his own translations rankled further.
His first response was, by attacking, to deny. Based on a somewhat garbled newspaper report which confused Kathleen ni Houlihan with The Countess Cathleen he condemned Yeatss defiance of the audience as the posturing of a tiresome idiot; then, recalling his long critical attack on the catastrophe of Riders to the Sea, he grudgingly admitted, perhaps his later work has merit. If Synge really knows and understands the Irish peasant, the back-bone  of the nation, he might make a duodecimo Bjornsen. It was hard to acknowledge any Ibsenite fury in the Dublin controversy. Retreating even further into fiction, he exulted, I suppose Sinn Féin and The Leader will find out all about Synges life in Paris: which will be nice for Lady G and Miss H[orniman].  Finally, condemning the Abbey as ruined, he bared a deeper concern: Synge is better at least he can set them by the ears. One writer speaks of Synge and his master Zola (!) so I suppose when Dubliners appears they will speak of me and my master Synge. 
Had Synge snatched the golden ring first, after all? On 16 February he wrote again to Stanislaus, complaining of his failure to get Dubliners into print, Synge is a storm centre: but I have done nothing. Finally, on 5 May he confided that Synges art is more original than my own.  It was no consolation when the publication of Chamber Music in May netted praise from Arthur Symons in The Nation as a book of pure poetry; the only substantial review from Dublin, by Thomas Kettle in the Freemans Journal, heralded the clear, distinguished playing with harps, with wood birds, with Paul Verlaine, while leavening approval with the comment, There is no trace of the folklore, folk dialect, or even the national feeling that have coloured the work of practically every writer in contemporary Ireland.  When The Dead was finally completed, small details reveal how strongly Synges hovering spirit  affected him; and although Gabriel Conroy rejects Miss Ivors challenge to go to Aran, Nora and James Joyce did go there in 1912. 
It is not surprising that Synge should be marked for rivalry. Joyce had confidently predicted in Drama and Life that the new drama would be at war with convention.  As early as The Shadow of the Glen Synge had rustled the dovecotes, causing Maud Gonne and her nationalist followers to walk out of the theatre. The Well of the Saints had not caused open controversy, but it mocked not only the miraculous but the miracle-makers. The Tinkers Wedding was so anti-clerical it could not be performed in Ireland. Then with The Playboy of the Western World reality was transmuted into fantasy, fact into myth, folly made heroic; Christy Mahons final words as he marches in to triumphant exile are as spirited as any of Joyces early  broadsides, and far more public:
Synges final play, Deirdre of the Sorrows, was even more pagan still, drawing upon the legends published in Lady Gregorys Cuchulain of Muirthemne and imbued with the nature-worship he had substituted for his mothers strict evangelical faith. Even the intensity of his musical training matched the younger mans, albeit contrapuntal and progressive where Joyces tended towards the harmonic and Wagnerian. And Synge had even recorded in his prose works those singular moments of vision which Joyce called epiphanies. 
Yet even while the two met in Clamart woods to celebrate the feast of St Euphrasia  Synges days of wandering were over; not until a year later would Joyce proclaim to Nora, I cannot enter the social order except as a vagabond.  Where Ireland was Europes afterthought for Joyce, it remained the westernmost part for Synge; where Synge celebrated violence, murthering Irish, Joyce abhorred it; where Joyce wished to Europeanize Ireland, Synge deliberately courted the pagan romance of a pre-Christian world. Like Oisin, the little faun, Synge had rejected Patrick, the man of many croziers; in Lady Gregorys words, My story is sorrowful. The sound of your voice is not pleasant to me. I will cry my fill, but not for God, but because Finn and the Fianna are not living.  And where Joyce called Ibsen master, Synge attacked him in company with Zola for dealing with the reality of life in joyless and pallid words.  Yet for all this, he had returned to Ireland to reap critical applause abroad: William Archer had singled him out for praise; his plays were translated and performed in Berlin and Prague as early as 1906. Despite Niamhs warning not to set foot on Irish soil Or else at once thy strength shall go, / And thou shalt grow both blind and old,  it appeared that Oisin-Synge, denying Patrick-Joyces book of rules, had triumphed.
Each had indeed found himself as wanderer. But parallel and contrast go more deeply still. I met a fool i the forest.  Which was Jaques, figure of fun for the Arden court with a melancholy of his own, the loner given to moralizing; which, Touchstone, the ladies  court jester fool, the merry mixer who descants so whimsically on time? Like Oisin and Patrick, the fools of Arden also parley, palaver, war by and worship with words, palabras. It is Jaques who casts a Greek invocation to call fools in a circle, Touchstone who wears the motley coat; Jaques who has been the libertine yet wishes to speak his mind and through and through
It is Touchstone who wins the maid, while praising foulness, horned beasts and husbands; Jaques who adopts the religious life, shunning social pastimes. A traveller by choice, Jaques experience has made him sad. As for Touchstone, the journey makes him sanguine: Ay, now am I in Arden, the more fool I: when I was at home, I was in a better place; but travellers must be content. In Paris Joyce teases Synge to anger, as the Duke does Jaques, coping him in these sullen fits / For then hes full of matter. Jaques in turn comments on Touchstones strange places crammd / With observation, the which he vents / In mangled forms, as Joyce will parody Synges curious dramatic speech in Ulysses.  Yet despite his brief accusation about Synges life in Paris, Joyce will acknowledge his own youthful sensuality in contrast to John Milicent Synges prudery. And to compound further, it is Joyce who marries, sings of adultery while remaining the solitary exile, while Synge, described (as the tinker Christopher Sly calls himself, paucas pallabris ) as a man of few words, proves himself neither silent nor solitary. And while Joyce reads Ben Jonson in Paris, Synge returns to Dublin to emulate the Elizabethan dramatist [who] took his ink-horn and sat down to his work [using] many phrases that he had just heard, as he sat at dinner, from his mother or his children.  It appears that, while meeting his own image, each also met the others.
In August 1912, Joyce wrote to Nora in Galway, The Abbey Theatre will be open and they will give plays of Yeats and Synge. You have a right to be there because you are my bride: and I am one of the writers of this generation who are perhaps creating at last a conscience in the soul of this wretched race.  In November 1916, writing to Harriet Shaw Weaver, he speaks of his first meeting with Yeats, He invited me to write a play for his theatre and I promised to do so in ten years.  As early as 1902 he had informed George Russell that he was engaged in writing a comedy which he expects  will occupy him five years or thereabouts, a statement Joyce repeated to his mother from Paris the following March after his encounter with Synge.  Quite clearly, Joyce considered himself a potential colleague and, later, successor to Synge in the Irish dramatic movement. When Martyn - and with him, the only voice speaking up for Ibsenite drama - left the Abbey Theatre it was clear that he would have to be replaced, if at all, by the purveyor of a newer drama still, of a noble and bare style appropriate to modern playwriting, as Joyce described it in his unfavourable review of Shaws The Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet in 1909.  By the summer of 1912 the ten years he had promised Yeats were up, and shortly after his return with Nora to Trieste, his play Exiles was taking shape in his mind.
Described in his notes as three cat and mouse acts,  Exiles deals with estrangement and liberation, perversion and conversion, on the ethical, moral, aesthetic, and sexual planes - and hence, by implication, on the national plane also. The origins of plot are readily recognizable from Joyces biography,  as is his determination to create a drama of Ibsenite clarity: either the perception of a great truth, or the opening up of a great question, or a great conflict which is almost independent of the conflicting actors.  The conflict (and great question) is how to reconcile, while exploring, the opposite values of the soul and conscience, the fruitful and the sterile. The perception of truth, which Richard Rowan struggles toward and for which he must sacrifice all certainties, lies in what Joyce calls the virginity of the soul, a state of readiness  which one must consciously strive for while acknowledging the hopelessness of recapturing it, once its initial energy is spent. There is no final end to such a conflict or perception, and so the play ends not in death, but spiritual, emotional, and physical stasis, a mood of lassitude tenuously balanced between physical longing and the wounding doubt of the soul.
Such an intricately patterned thematic structure required a matching rigidity of checks and counterchecks, comparisons and contrasts, in both plot and characterization. With Jonsonian precision Joyce presents the theme of putative cuckoldry through his humorous characters: Richard Rowan, spiritual but not genetic heir to the Anglo-lrish patriot, an automystic, artist/author, warring within him the conflict of a previous generation in his generous, artistic father and an unforgiving, puritanical mother; Robert Hand, artisan/journalist, an automobile, sadist in his sensuality  where Richard is masochistic in his self-denial, unwillingly-led betrayer to Richards will towards betrayal; Richards mistress-in-exile, Bertha, mother to his child, herself denied a patronym while Richard strives to free her soul and body from bondage to their love; Beatrice Justice, cousin and childhood sweetheart of Robert, spiritual mistress to Richard, while sickly in her own virginity; the inevitable folk mother Brigid; and Richard and Berthas son Archie, herald of the future, combining the flexibility of his godfather Robert Hand with the lunar qualities of his mother and the openness to experience of his father. 
When you are a recognized classic people will read it because you wrote it and be duly interested and duly instructed … but until then Im hangd if I see whats to be done with it. With these words Ezra Pound gently turned away Joyces eager gift of his only surviving play in September 1915. Joyce could not have been pleased by his insistent friends further advice eleven months later that Edward Knoblock, who had collaborated successfully with Arnold Bennett, might see his way to a stage version … you could always have your original version used when the thing is printed.  More important, however, was Yeatss cautious overture on 7 September 1915,
After that, silence fell until 11 February 1917, when, flushed by the excitement of A Portrait of the Artist, Yeats wrote to Pound, If you have the play bring it tomorrow night. If at all possible the Abbey should face a riot for it.  But it was not until August that Yeats formally rejected Exiles because it is a type of work we have never played well. It is too far from the folk drama; and just at present we do not play the folk drama very well. Then, with a candour all the more painful for its bluntness, It is some time since I read your play and my memory is not very clear - I thought it sincere and interesting. … I do not think it at all so good as A Portrait of the Artist.  On 8 November he wrote again, evidently in reply to a further request from Joyce,
Exiles was not published until 1918.  Despite Shaws support, the Stage Society of London rejected it in 1916,  recalled it in early 1917 when Joyce himself withdrew it, returned to it for consideration later that year, and after several further importunities, finally produced it in 1926; the director was W. G. Fay, himself an exile from the Abbey Theatre. In 1918 Joyce approached Carlo Linati, translator of Synge, with the suggestion that he translate A Portrait of theArtist; he translated Exiles instead, and the Italian version was published in 1920. A production of the play in German in Munich created a stormy evening and the play was withdrawn.  After a year of flirtation, Lugné-Poë decided against producing a French translation at his theatre in Paris. In 1925 the play ran for forty-one performances at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.  Joyce continued to hope for a Dublin production, suggesting that his agent attempt to bypass Yeats and appeal directly to the Abbey Theatre manager, Lennox Robinson;  as late as 1937 a prospective production in Dublin was cancelled.  The play finally received its first Irish production in 1948, seven years after Joyces death and thirty years after its publication. But by then the Irish stage had room for neither the naked drama of Jonsonian Joyce, or the fiery and magnificent, and tender Elizabethan richness of his fellow in folly, Synge.