|The Death Of Tragedy
||[May. 31st, 2008|04:29 pm]
We don't write tragedies anymore, even though we still write comedies.
We've handed the word "tragedy" over to the journalists for them to kick about.
When was the last time a serious writer wrote a serious play entitled "The Tragedy of X" or "X, A Tragedy"?
I'll bet it wasn't any later than 1920.
George Steiner has a book- which I haven't read- called The Death of Tragedy. He says we no longer write tragedy because we no longer possess a coherent religious or metaphysical world view.
We're talking linguistic fashion not cultural shift. It's about a word dropping out of use.
We find the word "tragedy" pretentious, hi-falutin, embarrassing, devalued-
Probably because the canonical tragedies (The Greeks, Shakespeare, Corneille and Racine) are about kings and heroes- and- for all sorts of good historical and cultural reasons- we no longer believe in such cannaille
But we still produce dramas in which poor saps come an inevitable cropper.
Dramas that move us to tears- that provoke emotional catharsis.
Isn't Brokeback Mountain a tragedy in all but name?
And what's in a name?