This work illuminates the art of four of Ireland's greatest writers through a detailed examination of their works in the context of a single main theme: each writer's attempt to grapple with, or define, the nature or meaning of Irish cultural and political identity. This vexed quetion of identity is an obsessive concern for each of the four, permeating the content, form and style of their major works. Rather than use the literature reductively, G.J. Watson allows his major theme to emerge and develop from direct and close engagement with the writers' texts, which are examined in detailed, full-length essays. This book has been much used by undergraduate and postgraduate students. It should be enjoyed by all those with an interest in Irish literature and culture, and especially by those with a particular interest in Synge, Yeats, Joyce or O'Casey.