Advertisement

Neohelicon

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 97–113 | Cite as

Sweeney Agonistes in noh mask: T. S. Eliot, Japanese noh, and the fragments of world drama

  • Carrie J. PrestonEmail author
Article
  • 110 Downloads

Abstract

The expansive reach of the ancient Japanese noh theater as it influenced modernist performance and poetics took in T. S. Eliot as well as Ezra Pound and W. B. Yeats, the more commonly recognized noh aficionados. Pound and Eliot attended the premiere of Yeats’s noh-inspired retelling of Irish legend, At the Hawk’s Well, in 1916. This essay considers the influence of that production on Eliot’s later work, discussing his review of Pound’s translations of noh plays based on drafts by Ernest Fenollosa and focusing on two productions of Eliot’s dramatic fragment Sweeney Agonistes. Incorporating influences from noh, classical tragedy, and American minstrel performance, among others, Sweeney Agonistes is an example of world drama. But, Eliot’s play is best served by a definition of world drama that does not oppose national theatrical traditions, one that recognizes the emergence of world drama from a critical practice that focuses on global allusion and inspirations and the transnational exchange of performance ideas and techniques.

Keywords

Ezra Pound W. B. Yeats noh translation Group Theatre Global turn 

References

  1. Avery, T. (2009). Desmond MacCarthy, Bloomsbury, and the aestheticist ethics of broadcasting. In D. R. Cohen, M. Coyle, & J. Lewty (Eds.), Broadcasting modernism (pp. 158–175). Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Billingham, P. (2002). Theatres of conscience 1939–53: A study of four touring British community theatres. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Blough, F. (1933). World premiere of T. S. Eliot’s “Sweeney Agonistes” included in experimental theatre bill. The Vassar Miscellany News, XVII(1), 4.Google Scholar
  4. Bush, R. (1981). The ‘rhythm of metaphor’: Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and the unity of image in postsymbolist poetry. In M. W. Bloomfield (Ed.), Allegory, myth, and symbol. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Buttram, C. (2009). Sweeney Agonistes. In D. E. Chinitz (Ed.), A companion to T. S. Eliot (pp. 179–190). West Sussex, UK: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Chinitz, D. E. (2003). T. S. Eliot and the cultural divide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Daniel, J. (2011). “Or it might be you”: Audiences in and of T. S. Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes. Modern Drama, 54(4), 435–454.Google Scholar
  8. Dulac, E. (1924). Music for ‘At the Hawk’s Well’. In W. B. Yeats, Plays and controversies (pp. 422–439). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  9. Eliot, T. S. (1917). The noh and the image. The Egoist4(7), 102–103.Google Scholar
  10. Eliot, T. S. (1974 [1936]). Sweeney Agonistes. In Collected poems 1909–1962 (pp. 130–146). London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  11. Eliot, T. S. (1946). Ezra Pound. Poetry, 68, 326–339.Google Scholar
  12. Eliot, T. S. (1975a [1940]). Yeats. In Selected prose of T. S. Eliot (Ed. F. Kermode) (pp. 248–257). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  13. Eliot, T. S. (1975b [1947]). Milton II. In Selected prose of T. S. Eliot (Ed. F. Kermode) (pp. 265–274). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  14. Eliot, T. S. (1975c [1951]). Poetry and drama. In Selected prose of T. S. Eliot (Ed. F. Kermode) (pp. 132–147). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  15. Eliot, T. S. (1978 [1947]). Fragment of an agon. In S. Haviaris (Ed.), Harvard Vocarium Records. “Poet’s voice series” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Flanagan, H. (1943). Dynamo. New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce.Google Scholar
  17. Gale, M. B. (2004). Theatre and drama between the wars. In L. Marcus & P. Nichols (Eds.), The Cambridge history of twentieth-century English literature (pp. 318–334). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hickey, R. (2000). Models for describing aspect in Irish English. In H. Tristram (Ed.), The Celtic Englishes II (pp. 97–116). Heidelberg: Carl Winter.Google Scholar
  19. McNulty, C. (1997). Dead poets. The Village Voice, 42(45), 97.Google Scholar
  20. Medley, R. (1983). Drawn from the life: A memoir. London: Faber.Google Scholar
  21. Milton, J. (1671). Samson Agonistes. In Samson Agonistes and shorter poems (Ed. A. E. Barker) (pp. 65–111). Northbrook IL: AHM Crofts Classics.Google Scholar
  22. PFHYI. (1959). Ezra Pound and Ernest Fenollosa. The classic noh theatre of Japan. New York: New Directions.Google Scholar
  23. Pound, E. (1987 [1939]). Study of noh continues in the West. In Ezra Pound and Japan: Letters and essays  (Ed. S. Kodama) (p. 156). Redding Ridge, CT: Black Swan Publishers.Google Scholar
  24. Preston, C. (2016). Learning to kneel: Noh, modernism, and journeys in teaching. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Punch (1935). At the play. Punch, or the London Charivari.Google Scholar
  26. Rath, E. C. (2004). The ethos of noh: Actors and their art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Robinson, M. (2009). The American play: 1787–2000. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Sidnell, M. (1984). Dances of death: The Group Theatre of London in the thirties. London: Faber.Google Scholar
  29. Smith, C. H. (1963). T. S. Eliot’s dramatic theory and practice: From Sweeney Agonistes to The Elder Statesman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Takeishi, M., & David, P. (2006). Japanese elements in Michio Ito’s early period (1915–1924): Meetings of East and West in the collaborative works. Tokyo: Gendaitosho.Google Scholar
  31. Tyler, R. (1992). Japanese nō dramas. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  32. Yeats, W. B. (1924). At the Hawk’s Well. In Plays and controversies (pp. 337–356). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Boston UniversityBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations