Modern Tragedy
  • Publication Date: February 6, 2006
  • ISBN: 9781551116341 / 1551116340
  • 256 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Modern Tragedy

  • Publication Date: February 6, 2006
  • ISBN: 9781551116341 / 1551116340
  • 256 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Modern Tragedy, first published in 1966, is a study of the ideas and ideologies which have influenced the production and analysis of tragedy. Williams sees tragedy both in terms of literary tradition and in relation to the tragedies of modern society, of revolution and disorder, and of individual experience.

Modern Tragedy is available only in this Broadview Encore Edition, now edited and with a critical introduction by Pamela McCallum.


“A serious, unorthodox book on a much vexed subject. … Is tragedy an event in our lives, or a literary form, or a body of dogma? Williams’ analysis here is especially fine.” — New Society

“An impassioned, powerful book…splendid.” — The Guardian


Introduction: Reading Modern Tragedy in the Twenty-First Century

A Note on the Text

Modern Tragedy

  • Acknowledgements
    1. Tragedy and Experience
    2. Tragedy and the Tradition
    3. Tragedy and Contemporary Ideas
    4. Tragedy and Revolution
    5. Continuity
    1. From Hero to Victim: The Making of Liberal Tragedy, to Ibsen and Miller
    2. Private Tragedy: Strindberg, O’Neill, Tennessee Williams
    3. Social and Personal Tragedy: Tolstoy and Lawrence
    4. Tragic Deadlock and Stalemate: Chekhov, Pirandello, Ionesco, Beckett
    5. Tragic Resignation and Sacrifice: Eliot and Pasternak
    6. Tragic Despair and Revolt: Camus and Sartre
    7. A Rejection of Tragedy: Brecht

Works Cited and Further Reading


Raymond Williams (1921–1988) was one of the twentieth century’s foremost literary and cultural critics. His work bridged the divides between aesthetic and socio-economic inquiry, between Marxism and mainstream liberal thought, and between the modern and post-modern world. Among his other major works are The Long Revolution (also available from Broadview Press) and Keywords.

Pamela McCallum is Professor of English at the University of Calgary.