An Age of Surfaces: Joe Orton’s Drama and Postmodernism

  • Adrian Page
Part of the Insights book series (ISI)

Abstract

Orton once wrote, ‘Unlike Wilde I think you should put your genius into your work, not your life.’1 It is a sad reflection on this ambition, therefore, that Orton’s drama is so often judged in the context of his dramatic life and death. Martin Esslin begins a study of his plays with an account of the playwright’s imprisonment for defacing library books.2 His conviction that the plays are no more than an extension of a puerile desire to ‘shock at all costs’ leads him to diminish their importance. Esslin seems to allow his distaste for the antics of Orton to colour his evaluation of the work.

Keywords

Coherence Assure Defend Edna 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    John Lahr, Prick Up Your Ears: the Biography of Joe Orton (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980), p. 334.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Martin Esslin, Joe Orton: ‘The Comedy of (ILL) Manners’ in C.W.E. Bigsby (ed.), Stratford-Upon-Avon Studies, Vol. 19, Contemporary English Drama (London: Edward Arnold, 1981), pp. 95–107.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    C.W.E. Bigsby, Joe Orton (London: Methuen, 1982).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983), p. 138.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (1886), p. 36.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Michel Foucault ‘The Subject and Power’ in Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), p. 212.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Quoted in J.P. Stern, Nietzsche (London: Fontana, 1978), p. 146.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2 The Use of Pleasure (London: Penguin, 1987), p. 244.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Jonathan Culler, On Deconstruction (London: Routledge, 1983), p. 86.Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    Maurice Charney, Joe Orton (London: Macmillan, 1984), p. 85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 15.
    Pierre Macherey, A Theory of Literary Production (London: Routledge, 1978), p. 131.Google Scholar
  12. 16.
    Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), p. 35.Google Scholar
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    Mikhail Bakhtin, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), p. 125.Google Scholar
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    Linda Hutcheon, The Politics of Postmodernism (London: Routledge, 1989), p. 95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 21.
    See Terry Eagleton, ‘Capitalism, Modernism and Post-Modernism’ reprinted in Against the Grain: Essays 1975–1985 (London: Verso, 1986), p. 145.Google Scholar
  16. 25.
    Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference (London: Routledge, 1981), p. 280.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Paul Rabinow (ed.), The Foucault Reader (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986), p. 154.Google Scholar
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    Gerald Graff, Literature Against Itself: Literary Ideas in Modern Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 76.Google Scholar
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    See Niall W. Slater, ‘Tragic Farce: Orton and Euripides’, in Classical and Modern Literature, Vol. 7 (1987), pp. 87–98.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editorial Board, Lumìere Cooperative Press Ltd 1992

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  • Adrian Page

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