Marina Carr, By the Bog of Cats

By the Bog of Cats by Marina Carr My rating: 3 of 5 stars Like many a literary work of the so-called postmodern period, Marina Carr's famous 1998 play By the Bog of Cats is a critical echo chamber of prior texts, whether near or far in space and time from its setting in the … Continue reading Marina Carr, By the Bog of Cats

J. M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World and Riders to the Sea

The Playboy of the Western World & Riders to the Sea by J.M. Synge My rating: 5 of 5 stars Yesterday for St. Patrick's Day I read these two classic early 20th-century dramas by the Irish playwright J. M. Synge. The texts I used were from the first edition of the Norton Critical Modern Irish … Continue reading J. M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World and Riders to the Sea

William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare My rating: 3 of 5 stars Like many modern readers and viewers, I am not shocked or outraged but rather fascinated by Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare's earliest tragedy and most notorious play. Wikipedia assembles a good collection of critical sputtering at this revenge drama's sensationalist logic of rape, mutilation and murder, … Continue reading William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus

William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Love's Labor's Lost by William Shakespeare My rating: 4 of 5 stars This early Shakespearean comedy, dating from the 1590s, is paradoxically slight but weighty, thin but dense. That's no doubt partially owing to the lavish verbal resources it spends on such a simple plot. The story it tells is this: the King of Navarre … Continue reading William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe My rating: 5 of 5 stars Goethe's Faust, including Part One and Part Two, was written over the entire course of the author's adult life, begun when he was in his twenties and finished when he was in his eighties, at the threshold of death. Many dates can be … Continue reading Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe My rating: 4 of 5 stars I am neither a Marlowe scholar in particular nor an early modernist in general, but as far as I can determine—with the aid of the contextual and critical materials collected in this Signet Classics edition edited by the late Sylvan Barnet—there are three main … Continue reading Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey into Night

Long Day's Journey Into Night by Eugene O'Neill My rating: 4 of 5 stars Long Day's Journey into Night, often considered one of the finest American dramas and as its author's masterpiece, was first published posthumously in 1955. The sources of its plot and characters in the Nobel-winning author's autobiography, his tortured family life marked … Continue reading Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey into Night

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Hamlet by William Shakespeare My rating: 5 of 5 stars Why is this bizarre, disorderly, long, and poorly transmitted tragedy from the turn of the seventeenth century the central work of the western literary tradition, its hero the keystone in the arch of modern literature? Because the distance he created between himself and the world … Continue reading William Shakespeare, Hamlet

David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet My rating: 4 of 5 stars Look. Look. Are you LISTENing to me? I'm not some Brooklyn beggar, okay? I'm not some fucking Oberlin grad with a hunnerd fucking grand in fucking debt and rent a coupla grand a month. I'm not some fucking slave in the clickbait content … Continue reading David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross

William Shakespeare, King Lear

King Lear by William Shakespeare My rating: 5 of 5 stars What is King Lear about? "[T]he fierce dispute, / Betwixt damnation and impassion'd clay," wrote Keats, but both terms seem inapt: "clay"—as in the moist earth from which the Creator molded us—suggests a different image from the acid, sandy soil of the heathland where … Continue reading William Shakespeare, King Lear