George Steiner John Simon - Essay

John Simon

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In The Death of Tragedy, Mr. Steiner's thesis is that tragedy, after its glorious heyday in Greece, and again, though in quite different trappings, in Elizabethan England, made its farewell appearance in 17th-century France. Thereupon, because science and optimism, commercialism, and the rise of the masses replaced myths, heroic individualism, and the sacramental-tragic view of life, tragedy went into an inexorable decline. The romantics tried to redeem it from its dreary neoclassical crawl by crossbreeding the prize-winning stables of Pericles and Elizabeth, but because the novel and prose had by now come into their own, the old and true verse tragedy was doomed except for a few flukes. With Ibsen and Chekhov...

(The entire section is 787 words.)