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The Life of the Drama Paperback – February 1, 2000

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books; Reissue edition (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557831106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557831101
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book came out of a series of lectures on drama that Bentley gave at Harvard in 60/61.
It's broken down thusly -

Part I - Aspects of a Play
1. Plot
2. Character
3. Dialogue
4. Thought
5. Enactment

Part II - Different Kinds of Plays
6. Melodrama
7. Farce
8. Tragedy
9. Comedy
10. Tragicomedy

For each section Bentley uses a number and variety of examples, from the Greeks up to Brecht.

The book can be thought of as asking two questions - Why do we like drama? What makes for good drama?
Amongst the many answers -
We like to see an imitation of life.
We like the companionship, of the players and fellow audience members.
It's interesting to see other peoples take on the world and life.

Bentley presents some big ideas but at the same time it was a fun read. He's got some strong opinions but he makes good cases for them. Virtually every page had something that made me think. The overall tone is that of an intelligent man talking frankly and directly with someone he considers equally intelligent.

He's erudite, anti-pedantic, and controversial (maybe counter-intuitive is a better term).

Here's an example of Bentley's erudition, from page 348 of the paperback -
"At the end of Balzac's play Mercadet, a certain Godeau arrives with money to solve everyone's problems; and at the end of Beckett's play the God of the Old or the New Testament could arrive to solve everyone's problems. That would be a happy ending indeed. That "Godot" does not come is what makes the play a parable of life as seen by modern man.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a graceful, thorough, humane journey through the territory of plot, story, and what makes a drama compelling. It is enjoyable to read as well as helpful for the writer. Something to return to again and again for inspiration and encouragement.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you pretend to conduct any serious studies within the field of drama, this is an obligatory reference. Even if it's just to criticize it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very insightful, thoughtful and thorough book on the subject of drama. Perhaps the best i've read on the subject.
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