Elizabeth Becker Henley is a present-day dramatist whose 12 complete plays, three of which have been turned into films, have achieved worldwide production. At age 29 she produced her first full-length drama, Crimes of the Heart, which attained Pulitzer Prize status and garnered three Academy Award nominations as a film. Her Mississippi upbringing ...
Elizabeth Becker Henley is a present-day dramatist whose 12 complete plays, three of which have been turned into films, have achieved worldwide production. At age 29 she produced her first full-length drama, Crimes of the Heart, which attained Pulitzer Prize status and garnered three Academy Award nominations as a film. Her Mississippi upbringing and her penchant for the eccentricities of southern culture, however, have caused critics to categorize her writing as a kind of southern gothic folklore inspired by feminist ideology. This book, the first critical study of Henley's complete plays, attempts to dispel the common stereotypes that associate Henley's work with regional drama and sociological treatises. delineates an existential despair manifested in various forms of what Freud calls the modern neurosis. The book maintains that Henley's plays must be understood as universal statements about the angst of modern civilization, and Henley's characters are assessed in light of Freud's proposition that cultural restrictions create neurotic individuals. The Introduction provides a brief account of Henley's childhood and career. Early chapters summarize the theory of the modern agnoisse espoused in Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents, while later chapters relate this theory to thematic and stylistic elements of Henley's most popular play, Crimes of the Heart, as well as Am I Blue?, The Wake of Jamie Foster, The Miss Firecracker Contest, The Debutant Ball, The Lucky Spot, Abundance, Signature, Control Freaks, Revelers, L-Play, and Impossible Marriage.
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