First published in 1946, The Playwright as Thinker is a classic work of drama criticism that helped create the intellectual environment in which serious American theater would thrive in the second half of the twentieth century. At the time of publishing, most drama critics believed dramatic art deserved intellectual status; Eric Bentley set out to prove them wrong. Focusing on the canic playwrights Strindberg, Ibsen, Pirandello, Sartre, and Brecht, Bentley viewed the playwright as thinker, and his survey of over 150 years of dramatic art provided, in essence, an intellectual history of Europe. This edition t only contains the original, long-suppressed foreword, in which Bentley lambastes the climate of Broadway at the time, but also the author's 1987 afterword.
Critic, scholar, translator, and playwright, Eric Bentley has been Brander Matthews Professor of Dramatic Literature at Columbia University and Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University. He served as drama critic of the New Republic and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1997-98. His most widely read books are Thinking about the Playwright, Bentley on Brecht, and The Kleist Variations. Richard Gilman (1923-2006) was one of the leading drama and literary critics of the second half of the twentieth century. He was a professor at the Yale School of Drama for thirty-one years and the author of five books of criticism and a memoir.