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This collection has been made the object of including European plays which have not only proved their worth on the stage but can also be enjoyed and appreciated by readers, who are not, for instance, selecting plays for production or group reading. The term 'modern' has been made to extend back in time sufficiently to include pieces which have been the source of influences still powerful to day. Thus the volume opens with a long one act drama written when Mr. Bernard Shaw was thirty two Lady Julie by August Strindberg, translated by C.D. Locock. Apart from its own merits Lady Julie is a landmark of the post romantic stage because it is the first major work of naturalistic drama, and for this reason its forceful author's preface, which has been included. There follows another long one act play by Gerhard Hauptmann (translated by C.H. Meltzer), who was himself a pioneer of the naturalistic theatre in Germany; but the dream play Hannele is more of a phantasm projected on a naturalistc backcloth. One of the most remarkable plays which appeared between the wars is the social political allegory by the Czech brothers Capek, here presented in the faithful translation by Paul Selver under the title of The Life of the Insects. Jean Cocteau's The Infernal Machine reproduces the story of Oedipus and the Sphinx from a new angle; the translation by Carl Wildman has been revised especially for this volume. The outward form of The Mask and The Face by Luigi Chiarelli is that of the more or less conventional social comedy, but the author deliberately entitled it 'A Grotesque,' and as the action develops out a sufficiently banal situation into a paradoxical tragic farce the whole system of a conventional values is turned topsy turvey; the translation by Noel de Vic Beamish is hitherto unpublished.
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