Modern European Tragedy. Exploring Crucial Plays

Annamaria Cascetta

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The consciousness of the tragic has traversed Western culture for millennia. It is closely bound up with the intuition of the inescapable limits, inseparable from the human condition. If the sense of the tragic is a permanent structure of human consciousness, tragedy is a form in which that structure has historically been translated. It was dramatic art and the stage that embodied and expressed it, enabling it to exist. As Peter Szondi rightly points out, it is only modernity that, while decreeing the death of tragedy and reconstructing its transfprmation through the centuries, has developed the tragic as philosophical idea. It is modernity that, after Nietzsche, has fueled a great debate about tragedy to the point as of at times of making it a paradigm for the interpretation of human existence and reality. Working from this premise, this book sets out to take on the problem of how the tragic is depicted in contemporary theatre by first considering dramaturgy and then performance. The book returns firstly to Greek source. Thus it examines the variety of shapes that tragedy took in the twentieth century by analyzing several emblematic texts where the idea of a limit is variously interpreted against the backdrop of the range of ideologies and philosophies that characterized the twentieth century. The texts considered ( plays or performative theatre) are: Ibsen's "Ghosts", Claudel's "The Tidings Brought to Mary, O'Neill's "Mourning Becomes Electra", Brecht's "Mother Courage and her Children", Camus' "Caligula", Beckett's "Endgame", Pasolini's "Pilade", Grotowski's "Akropolis" and "Apocalypsis cum figuris", Groupov's "Rwanda 94" , De Paw's "Ruhe".
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAnthem Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Print)9781783081530
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Modern tragedy
  • Tragic
  • limit
  • tragedy


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