Rites of Modernism

Edith Hall

in Adventures with Iphigenia in Tauris

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392890
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979257 | DOI:

Series: Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture

Rites of Modernism

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Euripides' IT was revived in performance between the late 19th century, when it became a favourite choice for ‘Greek plays’ in colleges and universities, and the 1920s. As a result of the anthropological interest awakened by Frazer's The Golden Bough (1890), the play's depiction of primitive ritual sacrifice and its elements of ‘romance’ attracted the artists of emerging Modernism. The first important modern-language staging of Euripides' own text was in Gilbert Murray's translation, under the direction of Harley Granville-Barker with Lillah McCarthy in the leading role. The production was performed in London, other British venues and the USA in 1912 and 1915. The plot also informed a best-selling biographical novel about two white men rescuing a white woman from captivity in Africa, Ethelreda Lewis's Trader Horn (1927). The book was subsequently turned by MGM into a spectacular (although in hindsight viciously racist) Oscar-nominated early talkie (1931).

Keywords: J.G. Frazer; The Goldern Bough; romance; Modernism; ritual sacrifice; Primitivism; Gilbert Murray; Harley Granville-Barker; Lillah McCarthy; Trader Horn

Chapter.  9169 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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