Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
New Light on Tony Harrison$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Edith Hall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266519

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266519.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 26 October 2021

The Early Years at the National Theatre: Harrison’s Molière and Racine

The Early Years at the National Theatre: Harrison’s Molière and Racine

(p.91) 9 The Early Years at the National Theatre: Harrison’s Molière and Racine
New Light on Tony Harrison

Hallie Marshall

British Academy

While Tony Harrison’s career as a poet was perhaps inevitable by the early 1970s with the publication of his award winning volume The Loiners (1970), this chapter argues that it was not a given that a significant portion of Harrison’s poetic output would be for the stage, nor that the British Theatre would readily welcome a contemporary poet writing verse plays. I argue that Harrison’s career in the theatre was fostered by his early commissions from the National Theatre and the collaborators he worked with in those early years, especially director John Dexter. Their work together on Harrison’s translations/adaptations of two seventeenth-century French plays—Molière’s Le Misanthrope (1666) and Racine’s Phèdre (1677), staged as The Misanthrope (1973) and Phaedra Britannica (1975)—allowed Harrison to bring to bear on his theatrical translations for the modern stage the ideas that he had been exploring in his doctoral thesis on Vergil and translation. Moreover, the close involvement of Harrison from commission to production served to reinforce his belief that writing for the stage and the page are very different things, with theatrical texts needing to facilitate a three dimensional performance. This would shape the nature of Harrison’s dramatic verse for decades to come. The success of The Misanthrope, which critics praised for the brilliance of its translation, was essential in establishing the claim of contemporary poets to a place on the modern British stage.

Keywords:   Tony Harrison, Translation, Reception, National Theatre, John Dexter, Molière, Misanthrope, Racine, Phèdre, Phaedra Britannica

British Academy Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.