Marbles

A Play in Three Acts

Joseph Brodsky; Translated by Alan Myers with the Author

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks

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A Platonic dialogue in the form of a double anachronism--the action takes place two centuries after our era--Joseph Brodsky’s only play, Marbles, is set in a prison cell that alone provides for the three unities of classic drama: those of time, place, and action. A nightmare rather than a utopia, this play proceeds according to the immanent logic of mental aggravation as its two characters, the inmates Publius and Tullius, examine the tautology of their psychological, historical, and purely physical confines. The fusion of its dour, somewhat terrifying vision with the macabre hilarity of its verbal texture allows Marbles to take its audience beyond the farthest reaches of the theatre of the absurd, into territory more suitable for modernist imagination than for human experience.

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Praise for Marbles

"'Prison is a shortage of space compensated by a surplus of time' is one of numerous references to time and space in this literary expression of Einstein's relativity theory by Nobel Prize-winner Brodsky. A play in classic form, it consists of a dialogue between Publius and Tullius, two Romans incarcerated in a one-mile high steel tower, and takes place at once in ancient Rome and a future supermechanized society. The discourse also concerns timelessness (marble, literature) versus transience (technology, ideology) and reality versus illusion, interspersed with arguments about mundane things. The only dramatic event, Tullius's escape and return, is downplayed. Thus, the play demands much of its audience, especially since allusions to classical literature, history, science, and philosophy abound in the very compact text."--Library Journal

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About the Author

Joseph Brodsky; Translated by Alan Myers with the Author

Joseph Brodsky (1940-96) came to the United States in 1972, an involuntary exile from the Soviet Union. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987 and served as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1991 and 1992.

Joseph Brodsky

Copyright Nancy Crampton
Joseph Brodsky

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Available Formats and Book Details

Marbles
A Play in Three Acts
Joseph Brodsky; Translated by Alan Myers with the Author

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
January 1990
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780374521165
ISBN10: 0374521166
5 1/2 x 8 1/3 inches, 96 pages
$11.00
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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