Achilles' Choice
Examples of Modern Tragedy
David Lenson


Why, during the last two hundred years, when critical achievement in the field of tragedy has been outstanding, has there been little creative practice? David Lenson examines the work of various writers not ordinarily placed in the tragic tradition—among them, Kleist, Goethe, Melville, Yeats, and Faulkner—and suggests that the tradition of tragedy does continue in genres other than drama, that is, in the novel and even in lyric poetry.

The notion of tragedy's migration from one genre to others indicates, however, rather sweeping modifications in the theory of tragedy. Achilles' Choice proposes a structural model for tragic criticism that synthesizes the almost scientific theories predominant since World War II with the irrationalist theories they replaced.

First published in 1975.