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Schriftenreihe Literaturwissenschaft, Band 66
Peter James Harris:
Sean O'Casey's Letters and Autobiographies -
Reflections of a Radical Ambivalence

Arguably the greatest twentieth-century Irish dramatist, Sean O’Casey (1880-1964) wrote more than twenty plays. His extensive output also includes a six-volume autobiography and thousands of letters. This study focuses upon O’Casey’s non-dramatic writing in order to trace the development of his opinions concerning playwrights and theatrical tendencies that influenced his own work for the stage. The first section of the book analyses O’Casey’s comments concerning influences prior to his own late start as a playwright – the Bible, Shakespeare, Boucicault and Shaw. The second section surveys his relationship with writers with whom he came into contact as a result of his career at the Abbey Theatre from 1922 to 1926. Finally, the controversy surrounding the rejection of The Silver Tassie in 1928 is examined in the light of his turbulent association with drama critics, his reluctance to accept the critical terminology relating to contemporary dramatic movements, and, in particular, his attitude towards Expressionist playwrights and their precursors. Based upon the premise that the Letters serve as an objective correlative to the subjective hindsight of the Autobiographies, the study demonstrates the ambivalence of O’Casey’s attitudes towards many of his contemporaries, a dynamic largely determined by the traumatic watershed of the rejection of The Silver Tassie.

ISBN 3-88476-687-2, 204 S., kt., € 25,00 (2004)

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