The Play: A Critical Anthology

The Play: A Critical Anthology

The Play: A Critical Anthology

The Play: A Critical Anthology

Excerpt

DEAR READER: This anthology provides the basic material for some elementary lessons on the drama. It is designed to be used either privately or in classes. The idea behind it is simply that if you want to know something of drama, you may as well begin by reading plays. Here are nine. Arranged in their present order and accompanied by the present Notes they are intended to call your attention to one feature after another of dramatic art.The main thing is to read the plays, passing from superior melodrama ( Cyrano de Bergerac) and superior farce ( The Importance of Being Earnest) to high comedy of two kinds ( The Miser and Twelfth Night) and thence to tragedy of two kinds ( Othello and Antigone) and finally to modern drama of two kinds, the realistic and the fantastic ( Ghosts and A Ghost Sonata). After this quick journey back to the Greeks and forward again to the moderns, it is time to take breath and ask: "How much the wiser am I? When I go to the theater now, am I a better judge of a play than I was before?" At this point is set before you a recent American play. No editorial notes: only a sketch of the New York production and the hopelessly conflicting opin- ions of its critics. Do you feel capable of arriving at an opinion of your own? An opinion that is more than one "personal impression" among many? If not, you have been wasting your time with this book.But be warned. The book will not provide you with the answers. There are the plays, and there is an amount of commentary which is far from doing them justice. Critical notes (the editor thinks) should be incomplete. They should lead away from themselves and towards:

(1) the writings of critics who on this subject or that are more expert or more intelligent;

(2) discussion on your part (is what the editor says true?); and...

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