MacLeish wondered how modern people could retain hope and keep on living with all the suffering in the world and offered this play as an answer. MacLeish had been earning his living as a poet for fifty years before this, his third verse play, was published. Shortly after the publication of the book, the play was produced on Broadway and underwent substantial revisions. There are, therefore, two versions of the play available for readers: the original book published by Houghton Mifflin and the acting script available from Samuel French. Both were published in , and neither has ever gone out of print.
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Lost your password? Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email. Job in Modern Dress J. A Play in Verse. Houghton Mifflin. Archibald MacLeish has shown great daring in basing his new poetic drama, J.
From a strictly literary point of view, the Biblical version offers few possibilities of expansion into a full-length drama. Furthermore, the development of the argument between Job, his three friends, and Elihu is not clearly articulated.
Unhappily, Mr. MacLeish has failed. He has tried to solve the literary problem, in part, by showing the prosperous J. And the succeeding scenes, which show J. Their presence weighs heavily on the drama. Most of their comments properly belong to J. Zuss argue out between themselves; lacking these speeches, J. All this is not a result of Mr. But this is poetic drama—what of its poetry?
I find it pale, feeble, and impoverished. Its only resources for achieving the modest and often superficial intensity it occasionally has are awkward syntax, labored alliteration, and, as a last resort, sheer automatism. Each time that Mr. MacLeish quotes from the Biblical version and he does so often , its words dominate the stage and sweep away whatever speeches he has put into the mouths of his characters. This artistic failure might have been salvaged in some measure were Mr.
It is not. By dwelling so long on the wager and on J. The final touch is J. He is. MacLeish is, of course, free to interpret the Book of Job as he wishes.
Yet the God of Job is no simple inscrutability. As the Voice in the Whirlwind, he steps forward and discovers himself. His presence is nothing less than the total and immediate creation of the world.
A known inscrutability, I would call him. MacLeish quotes extensively from the Voice in the Whirlwind and even has J. And as Mr. Blow on the coal of the heart. The candles in churches are out. The lights have gone out in the sky.
Dramatically, the question of inter-personal relations has nothing to do with the problem of Job before God, or even of J. Morally, it suggests bourgeois humanism. For, as it stands, Mr. Is it so much a matter of what the light of love may permit modern man to see, as—the eternal question—in what light shall he see love, and, indeed, everything else?
It has not been my intention here to beat down contemporary humanism with the stick of Biblical God-consciousness. Rather, I have wanted to point out that so long as humanists like Mr. MacLeish fail to understand such God-consciousness, they will also fail in their specifically humanist task: to come to a vision of man which would create, sustain, impassion, and move the world in the same way that the God who appeared in the Whirlwind did. Login Access your Commentary account.
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J.B. A Play in Verse, by Archibald MacLeish
It won MacLeish a third Pulitzer Prize. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback.
J.B.: A Play in Verse
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