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Wit - Acting Edition Paperback – May 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Dramatists Play Service, Inc.; Acting ed. edition (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082221704X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822217046
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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See all 11 customer reviews
I've even caught myself telling total strangers to see Wit!
G. P. Winkler
Margaret Edson wonderfully biographizes the story of a truly witty, sharp scholar-a master piece in short.
Taylor Newbold
I loved this book and was fortunate to watch the play on HBO with Emma Thompson.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have never read such a beautiful play. Margaret Edson writes an intelligent treatment of a highly gifted John Donne scholar, Vivian Bearing, who enters a new life situation and finds herself completely inept spiritually. The new plane of existence is terminal cancer. If you are looking for an engaging plot, don't buy or read this play. This is a drama for the mind.
The play is also extremely witty (no pun intended). It's worldview is basically Christian, because of its resounding affirmation of the goodness of human life, and the brutalities wreaked by self-centredness. This drama also deals with the issue of what constitutes good scholarship. Is good scholarship just a "way of quantifying the complexities of the puzzle" (in the words of the young post-doc researcher, Jason Posner), or does good scholarship give us a vital way of answering old questions?
This is also a play in praise of simplicity. When Vivian Bearing is on her deathbed, she recoils in horror at the thought of her old professor reciting one of the Holy Sonnets. Instead, the wizened old professor reads Vivian a children's story, a little "allegory of the soul: Wherever you go God will find it." God finds Vivian's soul, but only after she has been stripped of her old pretentions and arrogance. I have never read such a beautiful literary depiction of genuine spiritual conversion (with the possible exception of Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov).
You cannnot call yourself a well-read person unless you've read this play. This drama will be read for centuries hence. You can also buy a good film version on Amazon, which was released in 2000, casting Emma Thompson as Vivian Bearing (one of her best roles, I believe), and the lovely, talented Audra McDonald as her primary nurse.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dan Barksdale III on September 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Wit. A perfect name for a perfect play, yes, perfect! Margaret Edson's first foray into theater is a masterpiece which, she'll probably never out-do, but who cares. If you get a chance to see the play, do so, sell your teeth if you have to. I saw it at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco with Judith Light. What a powerful show! I had no idea what I was going to see, I walked out of the theatre, transformed. From the very start of the play when she says, "It is not my intention to give away the plot, but I think I die at the end." We know she's a force. Then at the end, when she finally throws away all the metaphysical conceit, the bantering about, and the complications of the meaning of life. When she finally adopts simplicity and kindness. When she throws off the IV, catheter, the cap covering her bald head, her hospital ID bracelet, and her gowns, and stands naked before us, reaching up, transformed. We know it's never to late, to change, to be transformed. And we find that in fact, along with Vivian, we are indeed transformed. We need to be loving, caring, and cherish what and who we have, and we know we will. We're gentler, better, transformed.
Vivian Bearing, a professor of seventeenth-century poetry, specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne, has stage four, metastatic, ovarian cancer; there is no stage five. She's in the hospital throughout the play except in flashbacks to her college years, her childhood years, and her teaching years. She is a no-nonsense woman, steeping her life in the intricacies of metaphysical poetry. In her field she is "a force." We know she's a force because we can see it, or read it from the time she walks out on stage.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Vivian is an English professor and an expert of John Donne's Holy Sonnets. Not being familiar with these sonnets, I found myself silently repeating the phrases in order to make sense what they meant. It was a great learning experience. Vivian is a quiet, comtemplative and lonely woman who enters the cold sterile world of medical research after being told she has ovarian cancer. Her perceptions of what she experiences are interwoven with her knowledge of literature. She is humorous and witty about what is said to her during her final stage of life. I loved this book and was fortunate to watch the play on HBO with Emma Thompson. Please read this and than watch the play. It is truly a great experience
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By G. P. Winkler on March 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
That's all there is to say. See (or at least read) Wit with an open mind and heart, and the story will take root in you. Friends and I saw it more than a week ago, and we're still marveling at the searing power of the story, the incredible humor, the brilliant performance by Judith Light, and the superb stagecraft. I've even caught myself telling total strangers to see Wit! Nothing I can recall ever hit me in quite this way.
(Full disclosure: Before she moved to Atlanta, Margaret Edson worshiped at the same church in Washington, D.C. I knew her a little and always admired her luminous talents and down-to-earth lack of pretension.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Taylor Newbold on May 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
"And death shall be no more, death thou shalt die." I found this play to be simply exquisite. The themes and notions of death and dying are truly poignant and most thought provoking. Every time I read it life seems so much the more precious and kind. Margaret Edson wonderfully biographizes the story of a truly witty, sharp scholar-a master piece in short.
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