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Friday, February 12, 2010

TWO CHEATERS

“Know Thyself” by Paul Hervieu 1908
Translated by Barry Cerf

“The Father” by August Strindberg 1887
Translated by N. Erichsen

Bullying military officers getting their comeuppance at the hands of cheating women bind these two plays together. Both pieces are moralistic, priggish, and more than a little misogynistic. This last is little surprise with Strindberg, of course.

Both are dated and reading them dragged down my energy, particularly the Hervieu. I began to feel that this blog slog through the book would never end. At least Strindberg’s play was unintentionally amusing, with its obsessive theme that men cannot claim paternity. I couldn’t help thinking “John Edwards would have liked living back then – no paternity tests.”

One thing that I’ve realized is how fleeting a playwright’s fame is. These are the “Chief Contemporary Dramatists” of 1915, according to the title. Less than a hundred years ago – and I’d never heard of nine of the twenty playwrights in this anthology. Likewise, I’ve seen a production of only 2 of the 20 plays included (“Riders to the Sea” and “The Cherry Orchard”).

Three more to slog and blog -- Will I make it by Valentine’s Day?

Plays read so far from "Chief Contemporary Dramtists" (Cambridge, Mass 1915):

"The Rising of the Moon" by Lady Gregory

"Lady Windemere's Fan" by Oscar Wilde

"The Hourglass" by William Butler Yeats

"Riders to the Sea" J. M. Synge

"The Scarecrow -- a tragedy of the ludicrous" by Percy Mackaye.

"The Witching Hour" by Augustus Thomas

"The Weavers" by Gerhart Hauptmann

"The Vale of Content" by Hermann Sudermann

"The Red Robe" by Eugene Brieux

"Beyond Human Power" by Bjornstjerne Bjornson

"Pelleas and Melisande" by Maurice Maeterlinck

"The Second Mrs Tanqueray" by Arthur Wing Pinero

"Michael and his Lost Angel" by Henry Arthur Jones

"Strife" by John Galsworthy

"The Madras House" by Granville-Barker

“Know Thyself”by Paul Hervieu

“The Father” by August Strindberg

-- Uke Jackson

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