Amid the hundreds of "how-to" books that have appeared in recent years, there have been very few which attempted to analyze the mysteries of play-construction. This book does that - and its principles are so valid that they apply equally well to the short story, novel and screenplay. Lajos Egri examines a play from the inside out, starting with ...Read MoreAmid the hundreds of "how-to" books that have appeared in recent years, there have been very few which attempted to analyze the mysteries of play-construction. This book does that - and its principles are so valid that they apply equally well to the short story, novel and screenplay. Lajos Egri examines a play from the inside out, starting with the heart of any drama: its characters. For it is people - their private natures and their inter-relationships - that move a story and give it life. All good dramatic writing depends upon an understanding of human motives. Why do people act as they do? What forces tranform a coward into a hero, a hero into a coward? What is it that Romeo does early in Shakespeare's play that makes his later suicide seem inevitable? Why must Nora leave her husband at the end of A Doll's House? These are a few of the fascinating problems which Egri analyzes. He shows how it is essential for the author to have a basic premise - a thesis, demonstrated in terms of human behavior - and to develop his dramatic conflict on the basis of that behavior. Premise, character, conflict: this is Egri's ABC. His book is a direct, jargon-free approach to the problem of achieving truth in a literary creation.Read Less
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Whilst not the most thrilling of reads, Lajos Egri's understanding of the craft is the best I have come across. What he says is clear and fundamental and well able to bring focus to the necessary objectives in writing. Even if you don't fully agree with his approach, his advice will still be of great benefit.
Apr 26, 2012
The book everyone else quotes
He is brilliant, succinct, helpful, thoughtful and when I buy other books on writing, they all quote Egri.
Not much more to say.
Sep 17, 2008
Probably the best 'How To...' book ever written...
Lajos Egri's book 'The Art of Dramatic Writing' is poignantly subtitled 'It Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives' and this is what lies at the heart of Egri's book.
Egri argues that all action is conditioned by a fundamental principle, which he terms the ?premise?, whether or not the premise is a known or an unknown subconscious motivation: and just as in real life, which adheres to this basic principle, so must it be in dramatic life. Without this ?premise? no writing, no matter how stylistically good, can be a fully developed and emotionally rewarding script, story, play, or novel.
Egri draws the premise of his own book from the Marxist principle of Dialectics, in particular the law regarding Unity of Opposites. He applies the principle that all things in existence, including the dramatic creations of an author, are affected by this dialectical principle of inherent conflict and resolution, which is the very motivating force of both the universe and the stage. He draws on material from the ages such as the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, the works of Shakespeare and Molière, Chekhov and Ibsen, thru to several motion pictures contemporaneous with his book all the while applying his critical principle of ?premise? and dialectics to demonstrate the inadequacies and successes in each work.
There is no doubting that that Egri is a well-read man with discriminating tastes, which adds a greater cogency to his argument. Even if one does not wholly subscribe to the tenets of Marxist-Leninism, there is no doubting that after reading this book, the principles of dialectics will have embedded themselves in the readers? critical faculties. So much so, that after completing the reading of Egri?s work one might even find themselves reading thru selected chapters of Engel?s ?Dialectics of Nature? as this reviewer did.
If one had to choose only one ?how to?? book, of which this is an early yet superlative example, then one could do no better than ?The Art of Dramatic Writing.?
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