Edward Bond has adapted or translated classic plays, published several volumes of poetry and essays, and written a number of screenplays; he cowrote with Michelangelo Antonioni the screenplay for Blow Up (1967), also directed by Antonioni. Generally, Bond’s essays deal with politics and the political responsibility of the artist.
Edward Bond’s first major achievements occurred in the law court and in Parliament. His play Saved was the last British play prosecuted for obscenity; his Early Morning, the last banned entirely by the Lord Chancellor’s office. The controversy stirred by these two plays focused attention on Britain’s censorship laws and helped rally support to repeal them. Because of this notoriety and his association with London’s Royal Court Theatre, long the home of experimental drama, Bond’s detractors now dismiss him as an enfant terrible intent on shocking a complacent middle class. This view not only underestimates the excellence of Bond’s early work but also denies the scope and richness of what has followed. A serious leftist, Bond has been concerned to show how social conditions generate moral ideas and how the past weighs on the present. Not surprisingly, then, Bond’s later work has concentrated on mythic or historical subjects; he has written a play based on the Lear legend (Lear) and another about William Shakespeare in retirement (Bingo). Early Morning is set in Victoria’s reign and The Sea in Edward’s; The Fool is about the Romantic poet John Clare. In short, no other contemporary British playwright has explored the British past as thoroughly as has Bond in his search to find the sources of British ideas.
Bond disparages his film scripts because he believes that work...
(The entire section is 478 words.)
Coult, Tony. The Plays of Edward Bond. London: Methuen, 1978. An early and important study of Bond’s work. The book is designed as a companion critical reader to Bond’s plays, with a valuable introductory essay. Coult takes a thematic approach, concentrating on Narrow Road to the Deep North, Lear, Bingo, and The Sea. Supplemented by a chronology.
Hay, Malcolm, and Philip Roberts. Bond: A Study of His Plays. London: Methuen, 1980. This study places Bond in a distinct scholarly category in which he is compared with his contemporaries. The chapters are arranged by plays, with a chronological list, a strong introductory essay, and two sections of production stills.
Hay, Malcolm, and Philip Roberts. Edward Bond: A Companion to His Plays. Rev. ed. London: Methuen, 1985. A companion volume to the preceding title, it includes a chronology, a bibliography, a section on Bond on his own plays, and plays in production.
Hirst, David L. Edward Bond. London: Macmillan, 1985. Contains three main sections: techniques of subversion, tragedy and comedy, and epic theater, including Lear and The Bundle. Hirst likens Bond to George Bernard Shaw, in that both seek a method of building a new world out of the ruins of the old. A good introduction.
(The entire section is 507 words.)