Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Edward Martyn is known exclusively as a playwright, although he also published a novel, Morgante the Lesser (1890), under the pseudonym Sirius. The novel’s combination of wit and scatology makes Martyn a remote relation of Jonathan Swift and François Rabelais, and as a shaggy-dog story, it owes a debt to Laurence Sterne. In addition, the novel belongs to a rich Gaelic and Anglo-Irish tradition of satires on learning. Its interest is confined exclusively to literary history, however, thanks to its turgid style and flaccid pace. Perhaps its most surprising aspect is its authorship. Nothing in the rigorous Ibsenite realism of his major plays or in the ascetic idealism of his private life would lead one to suspect that Martyn ever perpetrated a work that might well be ascribed to Alfred Jarry.