Varieties of the Albee Generation
EVEN A RELATIVELY RECENT study complains that American drama has been a neglected part of the survey of American literature.1 Some say that there had never been an American drama of any literary distinction, and therefore it was unable to undergo a rebirth in the twentieth century.2 Still, at its best, it is twentieth-century American drama that deserves something better than Ambrose Bierce's definition of contemporary drama as "the art of adapting from French."3 Although the mainstream has never lost its indebtedness to the Chekhov-Ibsen-Strindberg tradition and, lately, to the European Theaters of Revolt, the Americanization of the European heritage is a process specially worth studying.
Like European theater, American theater is in close touch with new movements in art and literature, searching beyond realism and naturalism to show more than reality and penetrating into human existence to reveal man in his essence. The works of progressive American drama disclose the corruption of the American Dream and offer reactions against the American Condition, the