This article reevaluates Michael Fried's antitheatrical aesthetics—expounded primarily in "Art and Objecthood" (1967) and Absorption and Theatricality (1980)—by constellating Fried's work alongside Péter Szondi's writings on modern drama and Paul de Man's theories of allegory. This theoretical juxtaposition reveals, first, that the phenomenon Fried describes as "absorption" parallels a form of mimetic, bourgeois drama hegemonic in European theatre from the time of Diderot to Ibsen, and second, that Fried's concept of "theatricality" corresponds significantly to the notion of "allegory" developed in de Man's work. Fried's writings thus advance a theory of modernity organized around the rise and fall of mimesis in performance, one in which mimetic drama comes programmatically to eclipse allegory and theatricality during the Enlightenment, only to then fall into crisis around the turn of the twentieth century with the rise of modernism, understood as a moment marked by the reemergence of allegory and theatricality in the arts. In this way, Fried's views of theatricality overlap considerably with the origins of postdramatic theatre demonstrated influentially in theatre studies by Hans-Thies Lehmann, and these overlaps require our field to rethink now well-established positions on Fried and Lehmann alike. A new view of theatre history is required, one that accounts both for the emergence of supposedly postdramatic forms and for this general reappearance of theatricality and allegory in modern times.


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pp. 89-103
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