The aim of the book is to help readers to understand why Sophocles is still worth reading, or going to see in the theatre, in the 21st century, and to show how far Sophoclean scholarship has moved in recent decades from the once prevalent view that he was a pious religious conformist who had nothing very profound or original to say, but who said it very beautifully.
The volume is a companion to The Plays of Euripides (by James Morwood) and The Plays of Aeschylus (by Alex Garvie) also available in second editions from Bloomsbury. A further essential guide to the themes and context of ancient Greek tragedy may be found in Laura Swift's new introductory volume, Greek Tragedy.
This readable, thought-provoking, and multidisciplinary study explores theatrical writings that question this aesthetical-generic conception and seek instead to work with the medium of theatricality itself. Beginning with Plato, Samuel Weber tracks the uneasy relationships among theater, ethics, and philosophy through Aristotle, the major Greek tragedians, Shakespeare, Kierkegaard, Kafka, Freud, Benjamin, Artaud, and many others who develop alternatives to dominant narrative-aesthetic assumptions about the theatrical medium.
His readings also interrogate the relation of theatricality to the introduction of
electronic media. The result is to show that, far from breaking with the characteristics of live staged performance, the new media intensify ambivalences about place and identity already at work in theater since the Greeks.
Praise for Samuel Weber: "What kind of questioning is primarily after something other than an answer that can be measured . . . in cognitive terms? Those interested in the links between modern philosophy nd media culture will be impressed by the unusual intellectual clarity and depth with which Weber formulates the . . . questions that constiture the true challenge to cultural studies today. . . . one of our most important cultural critics and thinkers"--MLN
With a cultural range that encompasses Shakespeare, Bretcht, and Ibsen, Death of a Salesman and Bad Day at Black Rock, Mamet shows us how to distinguish true drama from its false variants. He considers the impossibly difficult progression between one act and the next and the mysterious function of the soliloquy. The result, in Three Uses of the Knife, is an electrifying treatise on the playwright’s art that is also a strikingly original work of moral and aesthetic philosophy.
This book defines, through a survey of the European tradition of literature, art, poetry, and music, some of the philosophical and psychological implications and developments of that myth. A number of the main expressions of the Orpheus tradition are considered in detail: the Ovidian romances of the Middle Ages, the tragic love story of Renaissance opera (but not of The Magic Flute), and, in the earlier tradition of Orpheus as savior or shaman, the poem known as "The Testament of Orpheus" and catacomb iconography equating Orpheus with Christ.
Comparison of the different treatments of the Orpheus legend by poets and artists in the Greco-Roman world shows a number of wide-ranging and often conflicting developments from the early story of the divinely inspired poet-musician. Orpheus was believed to have aroused responses from inanimate nature as well as from living creatures, bringing about a peaceful order and even—in rare cases—restoring the dead to life.
As the supreme poet-musician of Greek tradition, the figure of Orpheus embodies the most central and persistent elements in Greek ideas of poetry, music, and artistic creativity. His journey to Hades has led him to become, for some, a Christ figure; for others, he descended into the unconscious and received awareness of timeless truths and creative power; through the Orphic cult his followers tried to attain some kind of eternal life; the loss of his bride Eurydice and his eventual dismemberment likewise provide material rich for the anthropologist, psychologist, and artist.