Download American Drama: The Bastard Art by Susan Harris Smith PDF

By Susan Harris Smith

During this publication, Susan Harris Smith appears on the many usually conflicting cultural and educational purposes for the overlook and dismissal of yankee drama as a sound literary shape. protecting quite a lot of issues corresponding to theatrical functionality, the increase of nationalist feeling, the construction of educational disciplines, and the improvement of sociology, Smith's learn is a contentious and revisionist ancient inquiry into the cultural and canonical prestige of yankee drama, either as a literary style and as a replicate of yank society.

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The disdainful, elitist attitude toward American drama was solidified firmly by the critics who turned American drama into a nonliterary, hence "invisible," genre. Historically, the "schools" of Americanist criticism have ignored American drama. The "New York Intellectuals," such as Irving 46 GENERIC HEGEMONY Howe, Alfred Kazin, and Lionel Trilling, do not consider American drama. Nor do Leo Marx, R. W. B. " The "New Critics" are another matter. Rene Wellek and Austin Warren do analyze drama in Theory ofLiterature (1949), but all their examples are drawn from classical and European literature.

But the situation is not much better for the later decades, when American drama is generally conceded to have come into its own. Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape is the only play included in Walter Blair's 1,300page textbook The Literature ofthe United States (1949). In the 1956 and 1962 editions of Bradley, Beatty, and Long's The American Tradition in Literature, Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape is also the only play and O'Neill the only playwright included in a collection of seventy-four authors.

Made much the same complaint: "We have no one who has assumed a stature comparable to that of Shaw or Ibsen no matter by what standards you measure it. Several are worthy of serious consideration; several may be as good as any playwright writing today in any language. But no American of any time has been a really major figure in either the intellectual or the literary world. Four or five Europeans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were both" (106). To be sure, Krutch shot his poisoned dart at American drama before the posthumous productions sparked a revival of interest in O'Neill, but nonetheless O'Neill's work had been much heralded when he was alive.

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