Geographic Transgression and Epic Theatre: The Subversiveness of the Pastoral Idyll in Edward Bond’s Lear
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The pastoral has often been defined in terms of an idyllic retreat where man can regain his former unity with nature, from which he has been alienated as a consequence of urban life. At the same time, however, the pastoral is not merely escapist, but explores the very problems of the city, contemporary society, politics and the human condition in general. It can thus be called a subversive form, serving as a vehicle to question contemporary values, roles and morals by offering a context where these issues can be freely scrutinised and criticised. A similar interest in contemporary affairs underlies the concept of the epic theatre, which, by definition, intends to create an awareness of existing social plights in the audience, thus aspiring to political reforms. This article analyses the overlap between pastoral elements and the notion of the epic theatre using Edward Bond’s Lear (1971). Not only will it be demonstrated how Bond uses the king’s retreat into a pastoral idyll to convey his views about the origins of extreme behaviours like cruelty and violence in modern societies but also to what extent this attempt at a redefinition of received standards fits the notion of the epic theatre. Contrary to the opinion expressed by some scholars that the pastoral has become obsolete in modern times, this paper hence argues that this mode is a broad and flexible category that has survived up to the dramatic tradition of the twentieth century and is, due to its oscillation between evasiveness and subversiveness, capable of being incorporated in such a “radical” concept as Brecht’s theatre.
- Książki/Rozdziały 
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