“Art has a lot to answer for.” So says Sarah Bernhardt in Ronald Harwood’s play After the Lions. Harwood’s own career can be summarized by that same quote as well.

Ronald Harwood’s Tragic Vision offers the first critical analysis of prolific and award-winning British author Ronald Harwood (1934–2020). Though he received an Oscar for The Pianist, a knighthood, and numerous other awards and nominations, Harwood worked as a ghostwriter, script doctor, and veritable unknown for many years. As he became successful, many critics still misread his works and positioned him as a less-fashionable counterpart to his lifelong friend Harold Pinter. This study proposes a conceptual framework to approach his, and others’, work based on the genre of tragedy, offering a greater appreciation for and understanding of the Harwood canon.

“As a survey of Ronald Harwood’s oeuvre, this book faces little or no competition. It clearly fills a gap in the market. Ann Hall’s book ambitiously attempts a selective synopsis of the plots of seven novels, sixteen plays, and eight screenplays.”—Peter Lawson, author, Anglo-Jewish Poetry from Isaac Rosenberg to Elaine Feinstein

“Ronald Harwood’s influence in the world of the theatre, in the realm of novels, and on the screen has long been neglected as a topic worthy of book length study. Ann Hall, in her thorough and highly readable assessment of Harwood’s influential career, finally provides the scholarly consideration that Harwood deserves. Hall highlights the multi-faceted nature of his cultural imprint, which includes his membership in the ‘unfashionable’ theatre set, his crafting of tragic figures across all three genres, his political writing as a Jew and a South African condemning oppression, especially Nazism and apartheid, and his exclusive focus on adaptation in his film scripts. . . . her work is an important first step in placing Harwood in context alongside his much-heralded contemporaries and arguing he deserves similar treatment.”—William C. Boles, author, Mike Bartlett

“Hall capably knits together the various strands of Harwood’s oeuvre with a compelling focus on what she defines as his ‘tragic vision,’ identified primarily in his construction of flawed or complex lead characters, often outsiders to their own social environments, who are nobly facing adverse or compromising conditions, or addressing their own inner conflicts. Though the emphasis is on the tragic, a rich undercurrent of humor is celebrated as a key component of the author’s voice. What emerges from this highly readable study is a very clear set of patterns in Harwood’s writing including nuanced auto-biographical impulses, the thrall of totalitarian regimes, the horror of the Holocaust, the dignity of Jewish community, and the iniquitous persistence of anti-Semitic sentiment, and, perhaps most importantly, the role of art as an enduring civilizing force, as a force of resistance in an exigent world: ‘His plays force us to face moral dilemmas, challenge us to remain true to ourselves, demonstrate the need for justice, and warn us against the totalitarian impulses that persist in our world,’ Hall outlines, and through the lens of Harwood’s tragic vision this book scrutinizes, she painstakingly evaluates and promotes these qualities across all of his output.”—Mark Taylor-Batty, University of Leeds

Retail price

Retail price

Publication Details

Publication Date
210 pages
Trim size
6 x 9 inches