Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Tag: drama

842: No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre


842.914: Sartre, Jean-Paul. “No Exit”. In No Exit and Three Other Plays. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. New York: Vintage, 1972. 46 pp. ISBN 0-394-70016-3.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 840: Literatures of French and Romance languages
  • 842: French drama
  • 842.9: 20th Century to the present
  • 842.91: 1900 to 1999
  • 842.914: 1945 to 1999

Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit” is an interesting look at human interactions when nothing else can distract them. The play involves three people, valeted into a room in Hell one at a time, and then coming to grips with what exactly Hell means. Sartre’s famous quote—“Hell is other people”—is the culmination of their interactions. There’s Garcin, the serial philanderer who deserted the army and was executed by firing squad, Inez, the postal clerk whose affair with a woman led that woman to kill her husband, and Estelle, the aristocrat whose affair bore a child that she subsequently killed. Each firmly belongs where they are, but they squabble with other over petty things. The room they are in has no mirror, so each person must trust the other’s perception of how they look.

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860: The Literature of Jealousy in the Age of Cervantes by Steven Wagschal


860.9: Wagschal, Steven. The Literature of Jealousy in the Age of Cervantes. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2006. 191 pp. ISBN 978-0-8262-1696-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 860: Literatures of Spanish and Portuguese languages
  • 860.9: History and criticism

Spanish literature from the 16th and 17th century is some of the most intriguing, most fun, and most exciting that has ever been written. New techniques, new philosophies, and new cultures all combined to form works that revitalized the populace and helped to expand imaginative writing. Steven Wagschal’s Literature of Jealousy in the Age of Cervantes focuses on a few writers of this timeframe and how they interpreted both the cultural and emotional landscape of the region. His main focus is on the titular emotion of jealousy. Jealousy in Spain was different from that in other regions in Europe. It was a widely-varied, highly refined topic, so much so that Lope de Vega (1562-1635) wrote six whole plays with jealousy in the title. Oddly enough, Wagschal uses philosophical frameworks from Descartes and Freud to examine the Spanish works. He does, however, wisely incorporate the works of Valencian scholar Juan Vives as well. While Wagschal’s theses are varied, they do take into account the beginning of Spain’s decline as an empire, new humanist teachings, and a more detailed reading of the works of Cervantes, Vega, and Luis de Gongora y Argote.

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812: Wit by Margaret Edson


812.54: Edson, Margaret. Wit: A Play. New York: Faber & Faber, 1999. 85 pp. ISBN 0-5711-9877-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 810: American literature in English
  • 812: American drama in English
  • 812.5: 20th Century
  • 812.54: 1945-1999

Margaret Edson’s Wit is an earnest look at how terminal illness affects one’s perspective. Dr. Vivian Bearing, a respected professor and scholar of the works of John Donne, is diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and has to undergo intense chemotherapy if there is to be any recovery. Her doctor is of course very clinical in his treatment of her, and his protégé is a former student (making for very awkward encounters). During the course of her treatment, Bearing gets sicker and more introspective. The play focuses on Bearing’s assessment of her life and learning as she deals with her imminent death.

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