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M. Butterfly. Paperback – January 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Dramatists Play Service, Inc.; First Edition edition (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822207125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822207122
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A brilliant play of ideas … a visionary work that bridges the history and culture of two worlds."
—Frank Rich, New York Times

"Audaciously imaginative … big in conception and theme, David Henry Hwang joins the first string of American playwrights."
Variety

"Just when you've seen every possible coupling, M. Butterfly presents one of the most provocative and touching of all."
USA Today

"Playwright David Henry Hwang has something to say and an original, audacious way of saying it. A rarity on Broadway."
—Edwin Wilson, Wall Street Journal
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Henry Hwang, acclaimed playwright and winner of the 2012 Steinberg award, screenwriter, and librettist, won the Tony Award for his play M. Butterfly.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

David Henry Hwang is a playwright, screenwriter and librettist for musicals and operas. He is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner, and a two-time Nominated Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His plays include M. BUTTERFLY, CHINGLISH, GOLDEN CHILD, YELLOW FACE, THE DANCE AND THE RAILROAD and FOB. He wrote the script (or "book") for the Broadway musicals Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA (co-author), which ran almost five years on Broadway, the revised FLOWER DRUM SONG, and DISNEY's TARZAN, with songs by Phil Collins. As America's most-produced living opera librettist, his works include four pieces with composer Philip Glass, as well as AINADAMAR (Osvaldo Golijov - winner of two 2007 Grammy Awards), THE SILVER RIVER (Bright Sheng) and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Unsuk Chin). His first play, FOB, premiered in his lounge of his dormitory at Stanford University. Hwang penned the feature films M. BUTTERFLY, GOLDEN GATE, and POSSESSION (co-writer), and co-wrote the song "Solo" with composer/performer Prince. Recently, he won the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Master American Dramatist, the 2012 Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre, and the 2012 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. He is currently the Residency One Playwright at New York's Signature Theatre, which is producing a season of his plays in 2012-13, including the premiere of his newest work, KUNG FU, inspired by the life of Bruce Lee. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, actress Kathryn Layng, and their children.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Hwang has written a masterpiece with grace, humor, and wit.
Geek Chick
I am very pleased with the purchase and the timely manner in which the book came.
Vivienne Pettus
Hwang creates stereotypes, and he makes these stereotypes vice versa.
Sevgi Baykaldi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By lindsay oliver on April 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
M. Butterfly takes place in the mind of Rene Gallimard. While the play begins with him in a French prison, we are taken far away from this prison into the depths of his mind. His fantasies of Song Liling are both reality and illusionary. He will ultimately face the most shocking truth about the "woman" he thought he loved for twenty years. M. Butterfly takes a bold move in rearranging common roles set by our society, whether speaking for the present or from fifty years ago. This play dives deep into the pool of stereotypes and makes every turn imaginable. While the Eastern/Western dichotomy is presented with stereotypes of both sides, roles are soon reversed which gives the dichotomy a whole new meaning. Gallimard, initially portrayed as the Western dominant male, and Song, initially portrayed as the compliant Asian woman, will both eventually reverse their sexual roles although their enthnic identities remain in tact. Gallimard evolves from the controller to the controlled, while Song proves his power and control as his masculinity is revealed. All of this role and sexual confusion causes us to re-examine the stereotypes. Are they socially constructed or are they inherent in the person? You must read and decide for yourself!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Geek Chick on August 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
Reviewers who focus on the inplausibility of the play's premise are missing the forest for the trees. The ridiculousness of Gallimard's situation is the product of his (and through him, the West's) self-absorbed and limited view of the East, evidenced through the overly simplistic dichotomy of East & West. He has been utterly blinded by his preconceptions of gender, culture, and politics. Hwang has written a masterpiece with grace, humor, and wit. Students of literary analysis will find a text rich in archetypes and ritual.

Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "feeler" on July 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This audiobook presentation of M Butterfly will give listeners a first class seat to hear one of literature's great stories. M butterfly is much more then a love story; rather it is a multi-themed tale which addresses many issues. West vs East, Fantasy vs reality sexuality, true love and the human condition. John Lithgow and B. D. Wong are great in the leading roles, especially Wong what a transformation! Buy this production and enjoy this mind's eye treat. L.A theatre works did an excellent job in putting it all together and I will not hesitate to buy more of their audio products. Thank goodness Amazon carries a large selection! Highly recommended
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brita Roy on April 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
M. Butterfly takes the well-known, traditional opera Madame Butterfly, and turns it upside down. It turns inside out the stereotype of Asian American women Americans almost take as fact. The common perceptions of male vs. female, East vs. West, powerful vs. powerless, homosexual vs. heterosexual are all overturned in this short play. Just when the reader thinks he or she knows what is going on, Hwang turns everything over once again. An astoundingly well written play... Be prepared for a surprise!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "stenerin1" on September 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Since some broad-minded fellow in the bible first referred to a woman as the "weaker vessel", and most likely before that, women have been fighting the stigma of the physically and mentally weak being, only capable of caring for herself to a certain extent. Even in this day and time, with self-proclaimed sensitive males coming out of the woodwork, quiet as kept, this is still the ideal. Passivity is thought of as a female trait, and an admirable one-though it has also become popular to herald the new dawn of strong, intelligent women. Only don't be too strong or intelligent. A heady mixture of non-threatening intelligence and feminine strength is probably best.
Hwang's M. BUTTERFLY skewers these concepts, attacking traditional Western views of Asian women, whom, perhaps even more than their sisters elsewhere, have the "weaker vessel", the delicate "lotus blossom" tattooed on their backsides. The character Gallimard is pulled into M. Butterfly's trap because he is enthralled with the modern western education and values she has, which he considers to be in conflict with her "Oriental" soul. It's exactly this piquant combination of an innocence and sexual prowess, which he considers culturally entrenched, that has him so in love with her. Asian girls in these types of stories are always slight, shy and beautiful, but no matter, they will eventually give in to the White Alpha Male, no matter WHAT he looks like. They are also loyal until the death, serving the White Alpha Male until their code of honor calls for suicide or some such nonsense, freeing White Alpha Male to marry a white woman, as the story wants us to believe he ought to have done in the first place.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Erin McCarthy on April 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hwang's play, "M.Butterfly" attepts to deconstruct the opera "Madame Butterfly" by breaking the back of the play. He does this by reversing both gender roles and the identifications of power that go along with those roles. First, Hwang represents the Western man, who is stereotypically strong, crass, and powerful, as Rene, a rather effeminate man with homosexual leanings. In doing so, Hwang makes it possible for the sterotypically weak and effiminate Oriental man, played by Song, to dupe and therefore overpower the Western man. One problem Hwang runs into, however, is the fact that Song is presented as effiminate. In fact, for most of the play Song is dressed and acts like a woman. His lines play right into Rene's preconceptions about the East, which both leads to his promotion as well as his eventual destruction and downfall. While Song does appear to win in the end, Rene, in fact rejects him. Thus while Hwang does attempt to deconstruct many of the Western stereotypes about the East, and does, he also perpetuates others. This play examines the overwhelming power of sterotypes as a discourse, through the concepts of gender and with the backdrop of the Vietnam War.
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