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Book By Edward Albee: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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By Edward Albee: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | By Edward Albee: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Edward Albee(Author)

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Book details

  • PDF | 142 pages
  • Edward Albee(Author)
  • McClelland & Stewart Ltd.; College edition (1983)
  • English
  • 4
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Walking Man on April 24, 2015

    The play is stark and depressing with only a hint of hope at the end. Albee throws dung all over what he sees as the shallow "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best" veneer of the 1950's. I feel that the play succeeded precisely because the picture it paints is so far outside the normal experience of those of us who came of age in the '60's, when the play debuted. I read Albee's first play, "The Zoo Story", in college. It did not inspire me to pursue his work further. Occasionally over the ensuing decades I heard references to the title of the movie "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", without realizing that it was a play by Albee. I have not yet seen the movie, but plan to do so now that I have read the play.I recently read the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf, which caused me to recall the title of Albee's play. I was curious as to how the play related to Woolf herself and her works. "Mrs. Dalloway" depicts the pretensions and social constraints of the "Downton Abbey" generation in Britain, while "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" is more of a psychological study of illusion versus reality. Woolf's work is tragic, but with a dreamlike quality. Albee's play is an alcohol induced nightmare. His references to Woolf in the title and text of the play parody the "Big Bad Wolf" song from a Disney cartoon that was a staple of children's television in the 50's. Woolf, the tragic modernist, struggled with mental illness and ultimately committed suicide. Albee's main characters, George and Martha, walk a dangerous tightrope as they struggle to deal with their disappointments, both professional and personal.This New American Library edition of the play is well designed and easy to read. The cover says that it was revised by the author for the 2005 Broadway Revival. I am guessing that this may mean the profanity has been enhanced and updated for contemporary audiences.

  • By Kevin L. Nenstiel on February 1, 2009

    Boiling this play down into a short review is a loser's gamble. Critics have written huge books and only scratched the surface of the myriad of ways this play can be read. They agree, though, that this play is a benchmark in American theatre, the beginning of the raw, angry, psychologically dense plays that would be created by writers like Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman, and David Mamet in the two generations since this vision of Hell first hit the stage.George and Martha, dignitaries of a New England liberal arts college, seem to be the most honest couple ever. No thought enters their heads that doesn't spill from their mouths. But those thoughts are relentlessly destructive. Their mutual abuse is ritualized and intricate. They know how to torture each other, physically, sexually, and mentally. But, bored of tormenting each other, they invite a new professor and his wife over for late night drinks and casual cruelty.The self-deception these four characters mask behind what looks to be ruthless honesty is appalling. Like a crash on the highway, you can't help staring, even as you are repulsed. Characters who think they've built invincible walls prove to be as vulnerable as babies, if others can find the right weakness. The revelation of secrets and lies, and the fact that George and Martha have done this before, pushes the audience out and past the bounds of compassion.Some reviewers complain that this revised version of the classic takes something away from the original. Albee has plainly shifted his sympathies away from the young couple being tormented and onto the older couple performing the torment. But even this is invigorating, since it strips away the little bit of safety net the audience thought they had and pushes us, defenseless, into the realm of these characters and their profound damage.As a warning, do not try to read this play in a single sitting. If anything, it's even more painful than a performance, since actors provide a little bit of a cushion against the brutality. Reading all three acts in quick succession can be a strain on even the sturdiest reader. But if you measure your reading out carefully, this purging fire of a play shows in big scale most of the changes that have transformed American theatre in living memory. Stunning and terrifying.

  • By David Norum on December 13, 2016

    THis edition is the one that the author edited himself for the 2005 Broadway revival. I bought it because I am doing that version as George in the Fall. I am kinda bummed at a few of the sections that Albee deleted but hey people these days have a hard enough time sitting through a play like this that will run close to three hours with intermissions, much less the almost 3 1/2 hour original running time.


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