Academic journal article The Arthur Miller Journal

Visions of Tragedy in Modern America Drama

Academic journal article The Arthur Miller Journal

Visions of Tragedy in Modern America Drama

Article excerpt

Visions of Tragedy in Modern America Drama Edited by David Palmer Foreword by Christopher Bigsby New York: Bloomsbury, 2018

I love this book-from its cover to its content. In eighteen short chapters, we are gifted with an impressive array of scholarship on seventeen important American playwrights (plus a chapter on American theater since 1990), each a unique examination of how that writer incorporated tragic themes in their art.

The introduction, by book editor David Palmer, is upbeat in its survey of the conception of tragedy, from its Greek origins to the use by modern playwrights to express their vision of the failure of the American dream.

The playwrights examined include Eugene O'Neill, Susan Glaspell, Langston Hughes, Thornton Wilder, Lillian Hellman, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Marsha Norman, Tony Kushner, and Suzan-Lori Parks.

The power of the text lies in the individual essays-each presents a critical engagement with the works while providing an overview of the seminal importance of each playwright. This book could easily be used as a textbook for the examination of the conceptions of tragedy and the distinctly American vision of tragedy in the works.

Stephen Marino's chapter on Miller is a seminal one. It explores the very nature of tragedy in Miller's plays-a theme used throughout the playwright's career. The structural analysis of All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, and A View From the Bridge gets right to the core of the tragic hero present in each play. …

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