Towards Greek Tragedy. Drama, Myth, Society.
Longmans, London, 1973. XVI,VIII,658p. Cloth wrps. Gilt titling on spine. Light stain on lower edge. Upper edge a bit stained. 'In the first part of the book' Brian Vickers 'argues against the application of transcendent schemes of 'critical modes' like 'hybris and nemesis', 'hamartia', 'dramatised ritual'; and he asserts that the variety and immediacy of the presentation of human emotions wrung out by the social strains of tragedy cannot be reduced to such impersonal patterns. He lays a salutary stress on pity and revulsion as tragic emotions and introduces the importance of family relationships, of crime, and of pollution. The second part, which benefits from an impressive knowledge of recent work on myth, argues against simplistic structuralist methods of eliminating the variety of myths, and against the notion that Greek myth is uninteresting because it lacks supernatural fantasy: on the contrary it is human and realistic because it reflects a comparatively advanced and interesting culture. Vickers goes on to show how the myths which the tragedies exploit and scrutinize explore the violation of human relationships within the family and society as a whole, and how tragedy uses the terrible and destructive consequences of the disruption of such relationships. The third and longest part now applies to the plays Vickers's view of the humanness of tragedy and the way it shows people suffering under the destructiveness and waste of tragic situations. (...) Throughout Vickers clears away thickets of insensitive and dogmatic dead wood, and reveals on nearly every page a fresh angle, a humane response, and an independent grasp of the significance of personal and social factors. The result is an exceptional achievement: a book which actually helps us to appreciate more strongly the dramatic power and emotional sensibility of Greek tragedy.' But: 'The book is unnecessarily long and repetitive, and it is written in an unattractive style.' (OLIVER TAPLIN in Greece & Rome, 1974, pp.201-02). From the library of the late Prof. W. Geoffrey Arnott.