David Mamet

David Mamet (mămĕt´), 1947–, American playwright and film director, b. Chicago. He taught drama (and produced some of his early plays) at Goddard College. His work, often dealing with the success and failure of the American dream, is noted for its sharp, spare, compressed, often profane, and insightful dialogue. He came to public attention with such plays as Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1974) and American Buffalo (1975), later achieving widespread success with the corrosively brilliant Glengarry Glen Ross (1983; Pulitzer Prize) and Oleanna (1992), a scathing look at sexual politics. He also has written screenplays for The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), Hoffa (1992), the film version of Glengarry (1992), and many other films. In 1987, Mamet made his debut as a film director with House of Games, a complex story about deception and gullibility; he has since written and directed several films, including The Spanish Prisoner (1997), Heist (2001), and Spartan (2004). Mamet has also written, directed, or produced several television films. His first television series, The Unit, a network military drama, aired from 2006 to 2009.

By the beginning of the 21st cent. Mamet was widely regarded as one of the finest American writers for stage and screen. Some of his later plays, such as The Cryptogram (1995) and The Old Neighborhood (1997), have explored difficult semiautobiographical material. Mamet also ventured into satire with November, a play about contemporary presidential politics that was produced on Broadway in 2008, and he explored the nature of guilt and shame as they relate to racial, sexual, and legal issues in Race, which debuted on Broadway the following year. Throughout his career, Mamet has treated the themes of belonging, the vagaries of authority, the pivotal role played by loyalty, and the importance of speaking the truth. In addition to more than 20 plays and some two dozen screenplays, he has also written novels, e.g., The Village (1994), several collections of essays (including the autobiographical Jafsie and John Henry, 1999, and Bambi vs. Godzilla, 2007, on the film industry), a book on acting (1997), The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred, and the Jews (2006), and The Secret Knowledge (2011), an explanation of his conversion to conservative politics.

See biography by I. Nadel (2008); L. Kane, ed., David Mamet in Conversation (2001); studies by D. Carroll (1987), A. Dean (1990), N. Jones and S. Dykes (1991), L. Kane, ed. (1992) and as author (1999, 2004), G. Brewer (1993), C. C. Hudgins and L. Kane, ed. (2001), D. K. and J. A. Sauer (2003), H. Bloom, ed. (2004), and B. Barton (2005): C. Bigsby, ed., The Cambridge Companion to David Mamet (2004).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

David Mamet: Selected full-text books and articles

Understanding David Mamet By Brenda Murphy University of South Carolina Press, 2011
David Mamet: A Research and Production Sourcebook By David K. Sauer; Janice A. Sauer Praeger, 2003
David Mamet: Language as Dramatic Action By Anne Dean Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990
The Spanish Prisoner By Yannis Tzioumakis Edinburgh University Press, 2009
Modern American Drama, 1945-2000 By C. W. E. Bigsby Cambridge University Press, 2004
Realism and the American Dramatic Tradition By William W. Demastes University of Alabama Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. Fifteen "Anti-Theatricality and American Ideology: Mamet's Performative Realism"
Staging Difference: Cultural Pluralism in American Theatre and Drama By Marc Maufort Peter Lang, 1995
Librarian's tip: "The Devil's Advocate: David Mamet's Oleanna and Political Correctness" begins on p. 173
Delights, Desires, and Dilemmas: Essays on Women and the Media By Ann C. Hall Praeger, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 9 "Misogyny and Misanthropy: Anita Hill and David Mamet"
Taking It Back: Crises of Currency in David Mamet's American Buffalo By Little, William Mosaic (Winnipeg), Vol. 37, No. 3, September 2004
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Postwar Academic Fiction: Satire, Ethics, Community By Kenneth Womack Palgrave, 2002
Librarian's tip: Chap. 7 "Performing the Academy: Alterity and David Mamet's Oleanna"
The Making of David Mamet By Storey, Robert Hollins Critic, Vol. 16, No. 4, October 1979
Tough Talk: David Mamet's 'American Buffalo' & 'Speed-the-Plow' By O'Reilly, Mollie Wilson Commonweal, Vol. 136, No. 1, January 16, 2009
Great American Writers: Twentieth Century By R. Baird Shuman Marshall Cavendish, vol.7, 2002
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