This study takes a different approach to the work of poet-playwright Clifford Odets. Rather than focusing on biographical and political factors surrounding his works, Cantor provides a close reading of 11 of Odets' plays as a whole, grounding his study within an analysis of themes common to each text. While granting emphasis to Odets' poetic style, Cantor gives due notice to Odets' achievements as both mythmaker and voice of the Jewish middle class. Included are reprints of "Sum and Substance," an interview with the writer conducted by the late Herman Harvey, and a 1998 interview by Cantor with actress/director Joanne Woodward, who has directed recent revivals of four of Odets' plays. Cantor also gives an account of other noted productions in order to illuminate the ways in which this visionary's style has influenced contemporary American theatre. Drawing both from previous works and his own research, Cantor presents a quintessential study of a prolific and influential literary artist. It will prove a useful and timely volume for scholars of theatre and American social history alike.
Harold Cantor is professor emeritus and a former head of the Humanities Department at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York. His stories and articles have appeared in magazines, including The New Yorker and Michigan Quarterly Review. He has taught courses on drama appreciation for Edison Community College and on Sanibel Island, Florida, and Elderhostel programs for Berkshire Community College in Massachusetts. Before entering the teaching profession, Dr. Cantor was a trade book editor for Alfred A. Knopf and several paperback publishers.