Jan Kott and The Aesthetics of Reception: Aspects of An Existential Theatre

  • Mao Chen
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 104)


The purpose of this paper is to discuss Jan Kott’s contribution to drama criticism through his indebtedness to existentialism. The first part of the paper is concerned with how Kott’s reading of Shakespeare enabled him to better understand his own situation as a dissident in Communist Poland. The second part of the paper maintains that Kott’s reading of Greek tragedy casts light on the period of the Polish Occupation and the situation in Europe after the Second World War. The concluding section argues that Kott’s drama criticism is best read as an application of reception theory to the existential approach to literature.


Vintage Book Greek Tragedy Classical Drama Ritual Murder Existential Reading 
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Further Readings

  1. Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus, and Other Essays. Trans. Justin O’Brien. New York: Vintage Books, 1991.Google Scholar
  2. Easterling, P.E. (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  3. Esslin, Martin. The Theater of the Absurd. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961.Google Scholar
  4. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. Trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Gadamer. New York and London Continuum Books, 2004.Google Scholar
  5. Iser, Wolfgang. The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  6. Kuharski, Allen J. “Raised and Written in Contradiction: The Final Interview; Jan Kott in Converdsation with Allen J. Kuharski.” New Theatre Quarterly 18 (2002), pp. 103–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kott, Jan. The Eating of the Gods: An Interpretation of Greek Tragedy. Trans. Boleslaw Taborski. New York: Vintage Books, 1974.Google Scholar
  8. Kott, Jan. The Meaning of the Body: Essays on Theatre and Death. Trans. Jadwiga Kosicka, Lillian Tallee and others. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1992.Google Scholar
  9. Kott, Jan. Shakespeare our Contemporary. Trans. Boleslaw Taborski. New York: and London: W. W. Norton and Company, 1974.Google Scholar
  10. Kott, Jan. Still Alive: An Autobiographical Essay. Trans. Jadwiga Kosicka. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.Google Scholar
  11. Kott, Jan. Theatre of Essence, and Other Essays. Ed. Martin Esslin. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  12. Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music. Trans. Douglas Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  13. Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blackmore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mao Chen

There are no affiliations available

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