Clifford Odets and American Political Theatre
AUTHOR: Christopher J. Herr
PUBLISHER: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
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Clifford Odets, one of the 20th century's leading American playwrights, was a fervent believer in democracy and the human ability to overcome obstacles. Yet his legacy has been overshadowed by persistent attempts to read him as a thoroughly political playwright. This new consideration reads his career--the work itself and the conditions of its invention--as cultural creations in a time of political, social, and economic change.
Spanning two World Wars, the Depression, and the Cold War, the works of Clifford Odets illuminate a period of tremendous change in American life and theatre. Herr adroitly examines Odets's plays and screenplays against the backdrop of the artistic and economic pressures placed upon him by the Group Theatre, Broadway, Hollywood, and the 1952 HUAC hearings in which he testified. He avers that Odets's experience as a writer in the film and theatre industries is reflected in expressions of economic struggle in his plays. While a culture of abundance in the face of economic catastrophe shaped the structure and content of his early works, political pressures, especially during the Cold War, shaped his later career.
This book illustrates the deeply utopian nature of Odets's vision, which existed alongside a continuing ambivalence toward consumer culture as a means of political and social change. Herr's fresh new look at Odets's works and contributions to the American stage invites readers to reconsider accepted notions about the playwright's importance.
PUBLICATION DATE: 10/30/2003
CATEGORY: Drama, Literary Criticism, Performing Arts