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The Social Significance of the Modern Drama

The Social Significance of the Modern Drama is a 1914 treatise by Emma Goldman on political implications of significant playwrights in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Goldman, who had done significant work with Modernist dramatists (managing tours, hosting, publicizing, and lecturing), here published her analyses of the political implications of modern drama. The book featured analyses of the political—even radical—implications of the work of playwrights including Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Hermann Sudermann, Gerhart Hauptmann, Frank Wedekind, Maurice Maeterlinck, Edmond Rostand, Brieux, George Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, Stanley Houghton, Githa Sowerby,[1] William Butler Yeats, Lennox Robinson, T. G. Murray, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Tchekhof (more familiar in English as "Anton Chekhov"), Maxim Gorki, and Leonid Andreyev. Goldman published the book as she set out on a tour, hoping to acquaint radicals and ordinary citizens alike to the radical potential of modern drama.[2]

The book was first published in 1914, Richard G. Badger, The Gorham Press, in Boston, and in Toronto, the Copp Clark Co., Ltd. The book was not a commercial success, and was quickly out of print.[3]


See alsoEdit


  • Arthur Redding, "The Dream Life of Political Violence: Georges Sorel, Emma Goldman, and the Modern Imagination", Modernism/Modernity, v.2, n.2, pp. 1–16 (April 1995) (analyzing Social Significance as part of an examination of ties between Modernism and anarchism)
  • Alice T. Friedman, "A House Is Not a Home: Hollyhock House as 'Art-Theater Garden', The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, v.51, n.3 (Sept. 1992), pp. 239–260 (speculating that likely influence of Goldman's work on Aline Barnsdall's commission of Hollyhock House, a Frank Lloyd Wright mansion intended to establish a progressive theatrical community in the Los Angeles neighborhood, Olive Hill)


  1. ^ For more information on this little-known playwright, see Mark Brown, "Githa Sowerby, the Forgotten Playwright, Returns to Stage", Guardian, 2009/08/14.
  2. ^ Bryan Waterman, "Goldman and Middleton: Feminism and Modern Drama", Patell and Waterman's History of New York, Oct. 27, 2008.
  3. ^ Harry G. Carlson & Erika Munk, Foreword to the 2000 edition, Hal Leonard Corp., ISBN 0-936839-62-7.

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