Scott A. Topping
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: The Sense of Nonsense: An Annotated Edition of
Ring W. Lardner's Short Plays
Dr. Mark Richardson, Chair
Dr. Jil Larson
Dr. Terry Williams
Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
3011 Brown Hall
This edition presents twenty-one short plays by Ring W. Lardner
(1885-1933), most of which have previously been accessible only on microfilm
and in special collections. No edition exclusively dedicated to Lardner's
plays has ever been published. Though Lardner is known primarily for
his short stories and sports writing, he considered himself to be a
playwright and lyricist. Throughout his career he wrote several full-length
plays (collaborating with George Cohan and George Kaufman, among others)
and hundreds of short plays and sketches from which my collection is
derived. Lardner's sensitive ear for American dialects, praised by H.
L. Mencken, Carl Van Doren, and others, combines with his keen eye for
the absurd in these short plays, providing a unique view of America's
Teens and Twenties. Included are representative samples of Lardner's
newspaper plays, written for his "In the Wake of the News"
column in the Chicago Tribune (1913-1919), sketches written for the
Ziegfeld Follies (1922), and all of the so-called nonsense plays (1922-1931)
for which Lardner has received some critical attention. After a brief
introduction to the life and dramatic work of Lardner, the twenty-one
plays are presented in clear-text, with
editorial emendations made to the non-substantive errors. A full listing
of emendations and textual variants is recorded. Following the texts
of the plays are extensive content notes, a complete and annotated listing
of Lardner's uncollected short plays, and a performance list of all
of Lardner's dramatic work.
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