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This third volume in Modern Library’s Paris Review: Writers at Work series gives the student a chance to study the words and opinions of some of the most important and compelling playwrights of our time. The interviews collected here range in date from 1956 to 1997 and in personality from Tennessee Williams to David Mamet.
The playwrights discuss particular works, writing in general, other playwrights, and their world. The student gains insights not only into the individual artists, but, through the juxtaposition of voices, into the life of the theater in the later half of the twentieth century. Becket talks of age: “with old age, the more the possibilities diminish, the better chance you have...for saying something closest to what one really is.” Ionesco compares himself to Becket: “Becket destroys language with silence. I do it with too much language, with characters talking at random, and by inventing words.” Arthur Miller answers comparisons between Reaganism and The Ride Down Mount Morgan: “It’s Reaganism only in the sense that the character is letting it all hang out...” Interview after interview, this collection adds fresh insights and contours to our understanding of these artists and their work.
The playwrights interviewed are: Thorton Wilder, Lillian Hellman, Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Eugéne Ionesco, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, John Guare, Sam Shepard, August Wilson, David Mamet, and Wendy Wasserstein. Each interview is preceded by a brief biographical essay and description of the interview’s setting.