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Five Plays: Antigone, Eurydice, The Ermine,…

Five Plays: Antigone, Eurydice, The Ermine, The Rehearsal, Romeo and… (original 1958; edition 1990)

by Jean Anouilh

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Title:Five Plays: Antigone, Eurydice, The Ermine, The Rehearsal, Romeo and Jeannette (Five Plays)
Authors:Jean Anouilh
Info:Hill and Wang (1990), Paperback, 280 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Drama, French

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Antigone / Eurydice / The Ermine / The Rehearsal / Romeo and Jeannette by Jean Anouilh (1958)



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I remembered that I had this collection while I was reading Romola, because there is some Antigone/Oedipus symbolism early in that novel and I did a little refresher with Wikipedia. Previously, I'd read two versions of the tragedy for high school English class in 1999, a classical translation which I didn't like much, and this Anouilh adaptation which I loved. This was, I think, the first time I encountered a serious rewrite of an ancient story, particularly within drama, and it hugely influenced the things that still interest me most deeply about writing. I bought this collection sometime during college so I could reread the play one day and see if I liked his others as much.I could do this all day, this re-looking at old words. What parts of the stories always stay the same through adaptation? What parts of them do other writers find integral? (NOT A BAD THESIS IF YOU ASK ME.) I am a huge fan of the idea of adapting the classics in this way, in order to learn from and demonstrate them. I think of it as cultural translation, ways to experiment and feel newness in the strongest stories of our species. It's a way of taking them very seriously, treating them to the same urgency given more relatable tales. I think the take on Antigone here is a really great one.Thoughts, by play: a majorly mixed bag.Antigone, 5 stars. Succeeds in service of the old story and in its own arguments. "It's just that I'm a little young still for what I have to go through." The conversation between Antigone and Creon made me dog-ear every page.Eurydice, 1 star. I hated this so much I wondered if I was crazy for liking Antigone at all, much less a lot. I do though. This just stinks. It isn't translating the old story in any tangible way, nor is it doing anything else. There's so many people and they're all unpleasant and absurdly bad characters. They say stupid things. The scene where Orpheus is talking to her but they're not looking at each other isn't too bad, because it's a really good idea for a scene, but then it fizzles into ridiculousness like all the others. Was so glad when it was over.The Ermine, 3 stars. Starts out stronger than it ends, but enjoyably Chekhov-esque. Thought that some of the financial conflicts were surprisingly real for a society melodrama. "What a sinister sort of farce life is when you're young and poor!"The Rehearsal, 2 stars. Pretty damn boring. I guess it's farcical? But even so, who wants to watch or read these people at all?Romeo and Jeannette, 4 stars. To my taste the later acts could use some editing because lots of the conversations feel like they hang on a few minutes too long. But I really liked it, especially the first half. It reminded me of the stressful surreal tone of The Homecoming and the shabby family of Refuge. (Sidebar: the racial epithets late in the play are confusing. One of those character's voice/author's voice mixups. Who do they belong to?) The ending really surprised me, and felt strong. Strangely cinematic, for offstage action. ( )
  pokylittlepuppy | Feb 10, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anouilh, Jeanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Black, KittyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galantière, LewisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, LucienneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
John, MiriamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374522294, Mass Market Paperback)

The great French playwright Jean Anouilh (1910-87) wrote both "pink" bittersweet comedies and "black" tragic dramas. Jean Anouilh Five Playsthe finest English-language anthology of his workscrackles with both his sharp wit and his icy cynicism. In Antigone, his preeminent play and exemplar of his themes and style, he creates a disturbing world in which fate may be no more than a game of role-playing. Eurydice, The Ermine, The Rehearsal, Romeo and Jeannette are the other plays included in this edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:21 -0400)

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