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Alice in Bed: A Play
     

Alice in Bed: A Play

by Susan Sontag
 

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Alice in Bed is a free dramatic fantasy which merges the life of Alice James, the brilliant sister of William and Henry James, with the heroine of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. It is a play about the anguish and grief and rage of women; and about the triumphs and limitations of the imagination.

Overview

Alice in Bed is a free dramatic fantasy which merges the life of Alice James, the brilliant sister of William and Henry James, with the heroine of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. It is a play about the anguish and grief and rage of women; and about the triumphs and limitations of the imagination.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sontag's ( The Volcano Lover ) first stage play focuses on Alice James, the invalid sister of Henry and William and, since Jean Strouse's acclaimed 1980 biography and the publication of her diary, a feminist icon. It is in the latter role that Sontag casts the bed-ridden Alice, and playing off her name, she suggests, too, another, more famous Alice of fiction--to the extent that the center of the play's action is a tea party. The tea party becomes a gathering of independent women of imagination: Emily Dickinson, Margaret Fuller, Myrtha from the ballet Giselle and, as the somnolent dormouse, Kundry from Wagner's Parsifal. Alice's doting brother Henry makes a couple of appearances as well. Unfortunately, although Sontag acknowledges that her work is ``a free fantasy based on a real person,'' none of the characters ever breathes with life; each lies flat on the page as a mouthpiece for Sontag's ideas about the imagination's dual role as liberator and jailer for a 19th-century woman of intelligence and about ``women's anguish and women's consciousness of self.'' Moreover, her dialogue is arch and literary. Regrettably, Sontag can add her name to a list of talented novelist-critics whose stage work disappoints. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Sontag ( The Volcano Lover , LJ 6/15/92) describes her play as a ``free dramatic fantasy based on a real person,'' Alice James, the sister of William and Henry James. A brilliant woman who suffered from depression from the age of 19, James died from breast cancer at age 44. The center of the play is ``a mad tea party,'' a la Alice in Wonderland , to which Sontag has convened real and fictional 19th-century women to counsel the protagonist. Emily Dickinson; Margaret Fuller; Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis (from the ballet Giselle ); and Kundry (from the opera Parsifal ) all make appearances. The dialog is terse and the action tense in this trenchant tale of imagination and feminine anger and grief. Recently excerpted in the New Yorker (5/31/93), this play had its premiere (in translation) in Bonn during September 1991. Recommended for all drama and literature collections.-- Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466818729
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
06/01/1993
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
117
File size:
100 KB

Meet the Author

Susan Sontag was the author of four novels, including In America, which won the 2000 National Book Award for Fiction; a collection of stories; several plays; and seven works of nonfiction. She died in New York City on December 28, 2004.

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