Tragic Drama and Modern Society
The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1981, 1989
John Orr constructs a theory of modern tragedy from Buchner’s Danton’s Death to Howard Brenton’s The Romans in Britain. He contests George Steiner’s thesis of the ‘death of tragedy’ but equally challenges, through detailed interpretation, the optimistic claims that Raymond Williams has made for modern tragedy. European tragedy from Ibsen to Synge are discussed as a drama of cultural periphery and social alienation. American tragedy is explored with O’Neill, Williams and Miller seen as key figures in the dramatisation of the American city and the failure of the American Dream. The rise of tragicomedy in the plays of Sam Shepard, and a new epic tragedy in the work of Edward Bond, Christopher Hampton and Howard Brenton are assessed.
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