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Tragedy: A Very Short Introduction by Adrian…
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Tragedy: A Very Short Introduction

by Adrian Poole

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This small book is crammed full of intriguing stuff, and I have no idea where to start or how to even summarize it. It set out a number of questions in its introduction that it aimed to answer in its nine chapters. While each chapter is very interesting and full of information, in the end I did not feel the expected answers are presented with much clarity, overall. The problem for me may have been the way each chapter is constructed: with many small subtopics with little introduction or summation.

Most of my experience with classical tragedy comes from Shakespeare, but beyond that I have never made a real study of tragedy itself. The subject and its application to contemporary literature; such as that of Joyce Carol Oates, intrigues me.

What interested me most was the various elements and aspects of tragedy that might be applicable to contemporary literature (I was less interested in how it might apply to our contemporary overuse? of the word in the news, though that is touched upon), so I will cherry pick, and mention some of these 'aspects' for your own cerebral stimulation. (was the last book you called a tragedy, really so?)

Classical tragedy is concerned with ideas of fate, fortune and chance (which can be linked to our modern concept of accident)

Classic tragedy, often said to have ended with the 17th century, is concerned with Gods, collective myth, public figures, and poetry.

Tragedy is full of ghosts, not all materialize. “...tragedy always deals with toxic matter bequeathed from the past to the present. In personal terms, this often means what mothers and fathers have passed on to their children in the form of duties, loyalties, passions and injuries.”

There are many kinds of scapegoats in tragedy. Scapegoats are meant to solve the problems of guilt or innocence, but in tragedy they raise questions about the process of judgement by which blame is affixed and punsihment executed.”

Tragedy explores pain and our ideas of it. “Yet is it not so much the pain my pain or yours with which tragedy is concerned... It is the pain of others, and the painful questions to which this gives rise: such as “whose business is it?”

This is just a few teaser tidbits. Despite it's construction, I do recommend the book as an introduction. ( )
  avaland | May 26, 2012 |
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Tragedy is a precious word.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192802356, Paperback)

To your local anchorperson, the word "tragedy" brings to mind an accidental fire at a low-income apartment block, the horrors of a natural disaster, or atrocities occurring in distant lands. To a classicist however, the word brings to mind the masterpieces of Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Racine; beautiful dramas featuring romanticized torment. What has tragedy been made to mean by dramatists, storytellers, philosophers, politicians, and journalists over the last two and a half millennia? Why do we still read, re-write, and stage these old plays? This lively and engaging work presents an entirely unique approach which shows the relevance of tragedy to today's world, and extends beyond drama and literature into visual art and everyday experience. Addressing questions about belief, blame, mourning, revenge, pain, and irony, noted scholar Adrian Poole demonstrates the age-old significance of our attempts to make sense of terrible suffering.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:58 -0400)

From the Publisher: To your local anchorperson, the word "tragedy" brings to mind an accidental fire at a low-income apartment block, the horrors of a natural disaster, or atrocities occurring in distant lands. To a classicist however, the word brings to mind the masterpieces of Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Racine; beautiful dramas featuring romanticized torment. What has tragedy been made to mean by dramatists, storytellers, philosophers, politicians, and journalists over the last two and a half millennia? Why do we still read, re-write, and stage these old plays? This lively and engaging work presents an entirely unique approach which shows the relevance of tragedy to today's world, and extends beyond drama and literature into visual art and everyday experience. Addressing questions about belief, blame, mourning, revenge, pain, and irony, noted scholar Adrian Poole demonstrates the age-old significance of our attempts to make sense of terrible suffering.… (more)

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