Mac Wellman, the contemporary American playwright, has said that there is a lot of George Steiner’s Antigones (where Steiner discusses the influence of Sophocles’s play on later writers and philosophers) in his Antigone of 2000. Explicating that relationship reveals that Wellman uses this material in various ways to present a view of the world that has much in common with, and is deeply indebted to, the realist tradition in philosophy and literature. It is also made clear that Wellman’s interest in these authors and this tradition goes far beyond his reading of Steiner’s book. Major elements of that “Hegelian theme” are the division of the spiritual and the real realms, the division within the real realm between word and deed, the predominance of time and change, and the imperfection of the human spirit, leading to endless conflict and disaster. The self, a spiritual thing, is driven to act and encounters resistance but, in the process, proves itself – self-realization. As it proceeds in self-realization, it longs for and, on very rare occasions, succeeds in becoming one with the Absolute. Mac Wellman, true to this philosophical tradition, is a frustrated idealist.


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pp. 41-64
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