By Susan Harris Smith
During this booklet, Susan Harris Smith appears to be like on the many usually conflicting cultural and educational purposes for the forget and dismissal of yankee drama as a sound literary shape. masking a variety of themes comparable to theatrical functionality, the increase of nationalist feeling, the production of educational disciplines, and the improvement of sociology, Smith's research is a contentious and revisionist ancient inquiry into the cultural and canonical prestige of yankee drama, either as a literary style and as a replicate of yankee society.
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Vivian Mercier pronounces American drama to be "moribund" because the "force of Realism" renders it "mechanical" (375). Mary McCarthy, too, finds that the dramatists "pledged to verisimilitude" (26) strive against the constraints of realism and write pretentiously and hollowly; as a consequence, such writers are "cursed with inarticulateness" (30). Whatever the merits of the charge that modern American drama lacks "literary" language, it is certainly true that much contemporary drama increasingly has moved away from a purely literary text and toward performance values.
Wilstach observed that the life of the novel often was extended by the practice and that some novels such as Pudd'nhead Wilson, "on account of the prohibitive price put upon it as a book," were better known as plays (137). Charles Warner's complaint was echoed in a similar one brought by Henry Davies in 1903, that the dramatization of novels confused literary forms and usurped the drama's independent creation of literature. In fact, it is clear that for some, drama meant only the superficial action on the stage and not the words, either spoken or read; in "Photography in Fiction: 'Miss Jerry,' the First Picture Play" (1895), Alexander Black published in Scribners Magazine an experimental novelette accompanied by columns of photographs, which he analogized to action in a play and which freed the writer from the necessity to describe appearance or action (see Figure 3).
The "New York Intellectuals," such as Irving 46 GENERIC HEGEMONY Howe, Alfred Kazin, and Lionel Trilling, do not consider American drama. Nor do Leo Marx, R. W. B. " The "New Critics" are another matter. Rene Wellek and Austin Warren do analyze drama in Theory ofLiterature (1949), but all their examples are drawn from classical and European literature. The same is true of Cleanth Brooks and Robert Heilman in Understanding Drama (1945). When Eric Bentley, in The Playwright as Thinker (1946), legitimized serious critical attention to modern Western drama, he did so at the expense of American drama.
American Drama: The Bastard Art by Susan Harris Smith