Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On the popular archive of American drama

As many of you know, I'm a big fan of the Library of America, and look forward to the day when I'll be able to afford a subscription.

On a trip through their most recent catalog, it struck me that they seem to be making an effort of late to incorporate American theatre into the series. For quite a while, Eugene O'Neill was the only dramatist included in the LOA, and, if you ask me, only because he won himself a Nobel. In the late 90s, the LOA produced a two-volume Tennessee Williams set (which is gorgeous, but leaves out a great deal), and in the past year, an initial volume of Arthur Miller has been released, as well as a collected Thornton Wilder. (We will, for the moment, ignore the volume of "Broadway Comedies.")

I imagine that a number of contemporary writers will be considered for inclusion as their copyrights expire or as time makes their publishers more willing to share the rights for a reasonable fee. I am, however, left with a pair of questions. Since the LOA is so heavy on prose, is there a comparable project in drama of which I am unaware? (Or poetry?) And which dramatists should be included in the LOA, either right now, or as they become available? Edward Albee and August Wilson seem obvious choices. Anyone else? Clifford Odets? David Mamet?

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