Synopses & Reviews
First published in 1946, The Playwright as Thinker
is a classic work of drama criticism that helped create the intellectual environment in which serious American theater would thrive in the second half of the twentieth century. At the time of publishing, most drama critics believed dramatic art deserved no intellectual status; Eric Bentley set out to prove them wrong. Focusing on the canonic playwrights Strindberg, Ibsen, Pirandello, Sartre, and Brecht, Bentley viewed the playwright as thinker, and his survey of over 150 years of dramatic art provided, in essence, an intellectual history of Europe. This edition not only contains the original, long-suppressed foreword, in which Bentley lambastes the climate of Broadway at the time, but also the author's 1987 afterword.
"The Playwright as Thinker has proved itself to be a permanent critical work. I can think of no rival to the way Eric Bentley argues that the greatest dramatists are also original and challenging thinkers. Few works of interpretation hold on forever. This is one of them." —Harold Bloom, Yale University
"I was educated by Playwright." —Richard Gilman
A definitive work by one of the greatest drama critics.
About the Author
Critic, scholar, translator, and playwright, Eric Bentley has been Brander Matthews Professor of Dramatic Literature at Columbia University and Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University. He served as drama critic of the New Republic and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1997-98. His most widely read books are Thinking about the Playwright, Bentley on Brecht, and The Kleist Variations. Richard Gilman (1923-2006) was one of the leading drama and literary critics of the second half of the twentieth century. He was a professor at the Yale School of Drama for thirty-one years and the author of five books of criticism and a memoir.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Richard Gilman
1. The Two Traditions of Modern Drama
2. Tragedy in Modern Dress
3. Tragedy in Fancy Dress
4. Wagner and Ibsen: A Contrast
5. Bernard Shaw
6. Varieties of Comic Experience
7. August Strindberg
8. From Strindberg to Jean-Paul Sartre
9. From Strindberg to Bertolt Brecht
10. Broadway-and the Alternative