Theory of the Modern Drama
Theory of the Modern Drama
Translated by Michael Hays

<i>Theory of the Modern Drama</i> is a brilliant analysis of the emergence and development of modern drama from the Renaissance to the present day. Szondi shows how the rise of modern drama was linked to broader social processes and expressed some of the beliefs characteristic of early modern Europe. This was manifested in the convention that form was ahistorical and it simply required the appropriate subject matter to do justice to the form. But in the late nineteenth century the form of drama began to change, giving rise to the new types of drama characteristic of the twentieth century. Szondi offers a highly original interpretation of this transformation, linking it with the emergence of an epic form which emphasizes the isolation of the individual.

This concise but wide-ranging book discusses the work of Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg, Sartre, Brecht and Wilder, among others. It will be essential reading for students of drama, modern languages and literature, and contemporary literary theory.

Show More
Buy Now


Order Exam Copy

For Lecturers Only

More Info
  • September 2020
  • 160 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9780745603889
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9780745603896
  • Open eBook $19.95
  • 9781509545599
Table of Contents

Foreword: On the Difference between a Mimetic and a Semiotic Theory of the Modern Drama by Jochen Schulte-Sasse

Translator’s Preface

Part One

Introduction: Historical Aesthetics and Genre-Based Poetics

I. The Drama

II. The Drama in Crisis

1. Ibsen

2. Chekhov

3. Strindberg

4. Maeterlinck

5. Hauptmann

Part Two

Transition: A Theory of Stylistic Change

III. Rescue Attempts

6. Naturalism

7. The Conversation Play

8. The One-Act Play

9. Constraint and Existentialism

IV. Tentative Solutions

10. I Dramaturgy: Expressionism

11. The Political Revue: Piscator

12. Epic Theater: Brecht

13. Montage: Bruckner

14. Enacting the Impossibility of the Drama: Pirandello

15. Monologue Intérieur: O’Neill

16. The Epic I as Stage Manager: Wilder

17. The Play of Time: Wilder

18. Memory: Miller

In Lieu of an Afterword


Textual Variants

Editor’s Notes and Commentary


About the Author
Peter Szondi (1929-1971) was Professor of Literature at the Free University of Berlin
Show More


"Reading Peter Szondi is a direct encounter with a literary-philosophic sensibility of great distinction."
George Steiner

Show More