Robert E. Sherwood and the Classical Tradition : The Muses in America book cover
1st Edition

Robert E. Sherwood and the Classical Tradition
The Muses in America

ISBN 9780367361112
Published July 10, 2020 by Routledge
182 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume explores the reception of the classical past in the works of twentieth-century American dramatist Robert E. Sherwood and his use of the ancient world to critique key events and trends in American history. 

It explores his comedies and the influence of both Greek Old and New Comedy, as well as his mediation of his experiences in World War I through Livy’s account of the war with Carthage. During the 1930s, Sherwood used the Peloponnesian War as a template for bringing to the attention of an unaware public the danger of an impending war between the forces of democracy and the totalitarianism represented by Nazi Germany, and post-war he raised awareness of the dangers of nuclear war through the lens of the Greek gods. As well as looking at his use of the classical past in his work, since Sherwood wrote drama deeply concerned with the major social and political events of his day, his plays open windows onto the major social and political challenges facing the United States and the world from the outbreak of World War I until the beginning of the nuclear age. 

This volume will be of interest to anyone working on the Classical Tradition and Classical Reception, as well as to students of twentieth-century American literature, drama, history, and politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Group of Brilliant People Named Robert E. Sherwood

1. The Curious Case of Barnum Was Right

2. The Ghosts of Battle: Robert E. Sherwood on The Road to Rome

3. Acropolis

4. Post Acropolis, Post Apocalypse


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Robert J. Rabel is Professor of Classics at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. He has also taught at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. He is the author of Plot and Point of View in the Iliad (1997) and editor of Approaches to Homer, Ancient and Modern (2005). He has also written articles on Homer, Greek tragedy, Greek and Roman philosophy, Greek history, Roman epic, Classics and film, and Classical influences on American drama. He is currently working on a book dealing with the survival of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction.