(Applause Books). For six decades, Harold Clurman illuminated our artistic, social, and political awareness in thousands of reviews, essays, and lectures. His work appeared indefatigably in The Nation , The New Republic , The London Observer , The New York Times , Harper's , Esquire , New York Magazine , and more. The Collected Works of Harold Clurman captures over six hundred of Clurman's encounters with the most significant events in American theatre as well as his regular passionate embraces of dance, music, art and film. This chronological epic offers the most comprehensive view of American theatre seen through the eyes of our most extraordinary critic.
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This book cannot be praised enough. Like the man from whom it came, it is too big, too magnificent, too extraordinary, too passionate, and too full of life to summarize. There is no way to do either it or him justice. The great English critic Kenneth Tynan came close: 'Few modern critics have traveled so far in search of theatre. Clurman gets to the heart of the matter more rapidly and more cogently than any other critic of his time. I don't think he's ever failed to recognize a new talent. You read Clurman to have your vision of the theatre replenished. If you're losing faith, you go and read Harold.' But even that is much too thin and far too faint to do him justice. Clurman's place as one of the giants, not only in American theater but in the history of the theater in the world, is unquestioned. If most theater critics could meet even three of Clurman's twelve "The complete Critic's Qualifications," they would be twice the critics they are. I defy anyone to read a single page of this huge work (1055 pages), and not walk away from it with some fresh and significant discovery about the art and literature of our culture, the history of our country, or life in general. In reviewing this book, one critic said were he stranded on a desert isle in some ocean, and informed that the ship to rescue him had finally arrived, he would say "But First, I have to finish reading this book." Get you hands on the book in some store or library, take a good look at it, and you will see for yourself.The book isn't about him, of course, but about all the grand classic arts presented in its title. Harold Clurman was born in 1901 and died in 1980. His offhand remarks and stories read like the Who's Who of American theater, to be sure, but his long life also reads like the What's What of American arts and literature. (There is no such book as the second, of course, but if there were, Clurman would likely have been the only one whose wealth of knowledge, first-hand involvement, demonstrated professional expertise, and widely acclaimed ability to write was broad enough, deep enough -- and yes, high and grand enough -- to find the right and truly telling words to ever fill its pages.)Imagine, eighteen and in school at Columbia in New York, he skipped his classes one February afternoon to take in the first performance of a play just opening at the Morosco Theatre by a largely unknown thirty-one year old playwright. The play, Beyond The Horizon, by Eugene O'Neill. The point is, Clurman was there; as he also was when his father scraped together enough to send him to Paris to study at the Sorbonne from 1921-1924, where another student friend was on the way to becoming one of the favorite musical celebrities: Aaron Copland. Harold was there too, as he would be in numerous other places over the next sixty years at one incredible history-making event after another. With his eyes open, his passion aflame, his mind alert, and his pen always at hand. And he used it royally, and the 2,000 results of that are contained in this book, with a good many scattered elsewhere.But let us bring this to a close by sharpening the focus and turning the spotlight on this man full force, listening to what another monumental figure, later to become a famous director of both stage and film, had to say about him. "He was the best first-week director of our time, as he was our best theater critic. What he did during that marvelous first week's work was to illuminate the play's theme, then sketch each role brilliantly, defining its place in building the final meaning of the production. . . .He had a unique way of talking to actors -- I didn't have it and I never heard of another director who did; he turned them on with his intellect, his analyses, and his insights. But also by his high spirits. Harold's work was joyous. He didn't hector his actors from an authoritarian position; he was a partner, not an overlord, in the struggle of production. He'd reveal