Tragedy and Metatheatre: Essays on Dramatic Form

Front Cover
Holmes & Meier, 2003 - 250 pages
Lionel Abel's original Metatheatre, now published in the company of new essays, has inspired a whole generation of playwrights and critics since it first appeared in 1963. Indeed, to insiders the very word 'metatheatre', coined by Lionel Abel, has become as familiar as the plays the author uses to exemplify his theory. Abel's basic premise is that "tragedy is difficult if not altogether impossible for the modern dramatist." Having identified the modern, existential dilemma (for both playwright and audience), Abel sets out to provide a theory for its resolution. In doing so he illuminates plays by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Calderón, Racine, Wilde, Genet, Brecht, Beckett, Pirandello, and others with ease and probity, offering a new generation of readers fresh, insightful interpretations. And if anyone thinks Lionel Abel has tempered his style be forewarned: As in his opening critique of those he considers to be playing 'language games', his criticism remains as piercing as ever.

From inside the book


What Is Tragedy?

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Common terms and phrases

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