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Christopher Hampton

(b. 1946)


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(1946– ),

playwright, screenwriter, and translator, born in the Azores, and educated at New College, Oxford. His first play, When Did You Last See My Mother? (1966), was written when he was 18. This was followed by Total Eclipse (1968, pub. 1969), based on the tormented relationship of Verlaine and Rimbaud. The Philanthropist (1970) is an elegant and epigrammatic comedy, which alludes in its title to Molière's Le Misanthrope. Savages (1972) is a political and ecological drama set in the Amazon. Treats (1976) is a provoking study of sexual behaviour, responding to the rising tide of feminist orthodoxy; Tales from Hollywood (1982) describes the lives of the German literary refugees and their attempts to survive in Hollywood in the 1930s, using the device of a (dead) narrator, the playwright Ödön von Horváth (1901–38), whose Tales from the Vienna Woods Hampton had translated for the National Theatre (1977). The White Chameleon (1991) is based on his childhood memories of Egypt at the time of the Suez crisis. The Talking Cure (2002) documents the relationships of Freud, Jung, and patient Sabina Spielrein.

Hampton has also made many translations and stage and screen adaptations of works by Bradbury (see The History Man), Steiner (The Portage to San Cristobal of A. H., 1982), Conrad, Greene, and Ibsen. He adapted Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses for both stage (1985) and screen (1989). He adapted and directed the film Carrington (1995), based on Holroyd's life of Strachey, and adapted for the stage Art (1996) and The Unexpected Man (1998) by French dramatist Yasmina Reza. Most of his original work is marked by an ironic and humane detachment, though paradoxically he is also strongly drawn to the Modernist experiments and violent visions of Conrad.

Subjects: Literature — Theatre.


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