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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Reprint Edition

87 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0451218599
ISBN-10: 0451218590
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Editorial Reviews


“Albee can…be placed high among the important dramatists of the contemporary world theatre.”—New York Post

“An irreplaceable experience…a crucial event in the birth of contemporary American theater!”—The Village Voice

About the Author

Edward Albee, the American dramatist, was born in 1928. He has written and directed some of the best plays in contemporary American theatre and three of his plays: A Delicate Balance, Seascape and Three Tall Women have received Pulitzer Prizes. His most famous play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. His other plays include The Zoo Story, The Death of Bessie Smith, The Sandbox, The American Dream, Tiny Alice, All Over, Listening, The Lady from Dubuque, The Man Who Had Three Arms, Finding the Sun, Fragments, Marriage Play and The Lorca Play.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; Reprint edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451218590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451218599
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Cassandra on May 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A play in three acts, a very simple setting, and only four characters who live in a small, university town in America: a middle-aged couple, Martha and George. And a "young and innocent" couple, Nick and Honey. They all meet in a room, in Martha and George's house, very late one night, for a nightcap. And then...all hell breaks lose.
The play tears apart both marriages: the middle aged couple, who seem to hate each other and in the end turn out to be much more devoted to each other as it would seem. The young, seemingly perfect couple, who turn out to have lots of problems of their own. In three heart-breaking scenes, using dialogue that cuts like a knife, Edward Albee has written a masterpiece. He manages to give a clear-cut, honest picture of the reality of marriage, the reality of love, and the fears that go hand in hand with love and intimacy. At some point, in act three, Martha talks about her husband- and it's probably one of the best pieces of literature I've read:
"...George who is out somewhere there in the dark...George who is good to me, and whom I revile; who understands me, and whom I push off; who can make me laugh, and I choke it back in my throat; who can hold me, at night, so that it's warm, and whom I will bite so there's blood; who keeps learning the games we play as quickly as I can change the rules; who can make me happy and I do not wish to be happy, and yes I do wish to be happy, George and Martha: sad, sad, sad."
What more can I say? just read the play, and if you get the chance, watch it performed in the theatre, too.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Looking past the rough language and the slew of verbal insults, one can see a sheer literary masterpiece. It wonderfully shows the struggle of George and Martha trying to come to terms with the reality they have created for themselves. When George discloses the secret of their son's nonexistence, he is forcing he and his wife to forfeit their mind games and live as functional human beings. By the way, in rebuttal, the title is absolutely perfect. Anyone with literary knowledge knows that Virginia Woolf was a realist who tried to present life as it truly is. Martha, at the end, is afraid of Woolf, or the symbol of life without pretenses.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Krichman on November 18, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Brilliantly vitriolic, witty, and sassy, this is one of the most engrossing and readable dramas you are likely to come across. At its most basic level, this play is so simple - just four characters, one room, and all the action taking place in the space of a few hours. But in terms of substance this is a powerfully rich and complex work of genius. The writing cuts like a sharp knife, the characters are exquisitely developed and original, and their chemistry is charged with an undeniable energy.
The characters are at odds with each other throughout the play, and yet it is difficult to takes sides with only one of them. They are all both likeable and dislikeable at the same time. George is a mean-spirited passive-aggressive with a huge chip on his shoulder, but it's impossible not to root for him as he joyfully attacks his wife, Martha, for her fondness of the bottle and various other sins. Nick's demeanor is just a tad holier-than-thou, but it is easily forgivable given the outrageous treatment he is forced to endure throughout the evening. Honey, his wife, is a ditz and a lush, but loveable in the same way as an Irish Setter. Any one of the four could easily carry the show, and together they create a powerful tension that keeps the play moving at a brisk pace.
It is easy to see why Albee's writing has earned him a Pulitzer Prize. What is surprising is that is was another, lesser-known play and not this one that he won it for.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ventura Angelo on January 12, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the stuff real drama is made:the human soul.And we see four torn, ravaged soul caught in a maelstrom of bitter emotions caused by frustration,unrequited love,anger and guilt feelings. Martha can't understand George's despair, that his apathy is generated by his ultimate failure to find a source of hope and meaning in his life; George can't understand the frustration of Martha, her own feeling of failure being incapable to connect whit him, to save him from his passive/aggressive depression; nor can Nick and Honey comprehend them, and indeed themselves. The sadistic rituals of games are like pagan sacrifices, made by the characters to the god of modern angst to know the truth on themselves. As the sad truth is revealed, they emerge maybe purified, surely wiser.This drama is like an interpretation of Eliot's Wasteland . The spirit,expecially in the final scenes,is very similar.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ronnie Khoury on May 13, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Edward Albee truly explores and humiliates the human fallacy of communication and insecurity in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with the use of repetition and a critical and satirical tone. In the play, Albee creates a tension between the two main characters of George and Martha. Throughout the play, Martha repeatedly sings "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Although this song correlates to the title of the play, it also contains a deeper and more stylistic purpose to it. It basically means "Who's Afraid of life without false illusions?" according to Albee. When Martha sings George this very song, she is really asking him if he can continue life without lying to himself, but rather be honest with himself and live with the truth. This repetition of questioning with the song creates the feeling of insecurity within the characters. It arrives to the question if they can really handle the situation. In another example of repetition, Albee repeatedly has the characters of George and Martha suspiciously talk of and mention about their son. The repetition of this illusion by these characters creates the fantasy, which they live by, and how they carry on with this fantasy to fulfill their happiness. This correlates to the problem of insecurity Albee wishes to create through the use of the characters. Not only does Albee use this repetition to carry out his philosophical views on human existence, but he also validates the communicable issues with the satirical and critical tone throughout the play. The satirical tones of the sick games the couples fancy during the play spark a disturbing appearance toward the characters and their disgusting communication. Albee truly makes a disturbing communication problem when Martha plays "Humiliate the Host".Read more ›
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