The Absent One: Mourning Ritual, Tragedy, and the Performance of Ambivalence (Paperback)

The Absent One: Mourning Ritual, Tragedy, and the Performance of Ambivalence Cover Image
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Here is presented a new theory of the origins of tragedy, based on its perceived kinship with mourning ritual. Mourners and tragic protagonists alike journey through dangerous transitional states, confront the uncanny, express themselves in antithetical style, and, above all, enact their ambivalence toward their beloved dead. Elements common to both tragedy and mourning ritual are first identified in actual Chinese, African, and Greek funerary rites and then analyzed in tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Racine, Ibsen, O'Neill, Miller, Beckett, and Ionesco. Included is a firsthand account of exploration of the tragedy-mourning link in the rehearsal process of the great experimental theater director, Joseph Chaikin. Opening her first chapter, Dr. Cole says, "The grave is the birthplace of tragic drama and ghosts are its procreators. For tragedy is the performance of ambivalence which ghosts emblematize: what we fear in particular-the revenant, the ghost returning to haunt us-is also what we desire-the extending of life beyond the moment of death.

About the Author

Susan Letzler Cole is Professor of English and Academic Coordinator of Dramatic Studies at Albertus Magnus College.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780271007854
ISBN-10: 0271007850
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication Date: September 2nd, 1985
Pages: 192
Language: English