Dernière modification: 2007-07-03
This quotation, taken from Victor Hugo's Preface to Cromwell and used by Tony Harrison as the title of his introduction to his version of Le Roi s'amuse (The Prince's Play, National Theatre, 1995) is typical of the constant dialogue with the literary past in the work of this poet, dramatist and film-maker. Whether through the use of quotation, paraphrase or adaptation, the textual past is ostensibly present in his poetry. His deliberate borrowings from tradition fuel an aesthetic as well as an ethical concern. Reprising, both as a theme and a creative strategy, is indeed at the heart of The Trackers of Oxyrhyncus, based on the fragments of a lost satyr play by Sophocles. In the 'National Theatre' version (1990), itself a revision of the original play created for the Delphi Greek Drama Festival in 1988, the patching up of a worn-out papyrus comments on the loosening of the contemporary social fabric. The superimposition of past and present invites parody and self-parody, which ironically raises the question of the elitism of metafiction, especially coming from the work of a poet who strives to be accessible and direct.
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