C(ecil) P(hillip) Taylor Introduction

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(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

C(ecil) P(hillip) Taylor 1929–1981

Scottish dramatist and scriptwriter.

Taylor, a prolific author, for many years worked with and contributed plays to several theater groups in Scotland, helping to strengthen the Scottish theater while developing his style and craft. His use of local color, Scottish-Jewish socialist protagonists, and loose structure made his early plays seem exotic when staged outside Scotland. But by isolating and examining particulars of an individual or small group of people, Taylor hoped to reveal universal traits in humankind, a philosophy of drama that won modest success.

Taylor's early plays typically featured characters who thought of themselves as liberal, enlightened, and good. Taylor drew humor and drama from them as they tried to adjust to events in their lives that conflicted with their liberal ideals. For these realistic social dramas Taylor created a character type that recurs in his plays, one who displays self-deception, often comic, while trapped in a conflict between ideals and the limitations of life.

With his two recently produced plays, Good (1982) and Bring Me Sunshine, Bring Me Smiles (1982), Taylor won wider recognition. Good, which is viewed as his triumph, examines how a good, intelligent, young German named Halder, could gradually succumb and find rationale for the evils of Nazism. Good has drawn both sharp praise and disapproval from critics, who have debated the merit of Taylor's presentation of Halder's subtle, unprovoked descent.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 25-28, rev. ed., Vol. 105 [obituary].)