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Eric Bentley (born September 14, 1916, Bolton, Lancashiremarker, Englandmarker) is a renowned critic, playwright, singer, editor and translator. He became an Americanmarker citizen in 1948, and currently lives in New York Citymarker. In 1998 he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame; he is also a member of the New York Theater Hall of Fame, in recognition of his years of performances in cabarets.

In addition to teaching at Columbia University from 1953, Bentley was in the 1950s a theatre critic for The New Republic, known for his blunt style of theatre criticism. Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller threatened to sue Bentley for his unfavorable reviews of their work, but abandoned the attempt. From 1960-1961, Bentley was the Norton professor at Harvard Universitymarker.

Bentley met Bertolt Brecht at UCLAmarker as a young man and is considered one of the pre-eminent experts on Brecht, whose work he has translated. He edited the Grove Press issue of Brecht's work, and made two albums of Brecht songs for the legendary Folkways Records label, most of which had never been recorded in English before.

In 1969, Bentley came out of the closet and declared his homosexuality. In an interview in the New York Times on 12 November 2006, he says he was married twice before coming out at age 53, and deciding, at the same time, to leave his post at Columbia to concentrate on his writing. He has stated his being gay as an influence on his theater work, especially his play Lord Alfred's Lover.

He has written many critical books, including A Century of Hero-Worship, The Playwright as Thinker, Bernard Shaw, What is Theatre?, The Life of the Drama, Theatre of War, Brecht Commentaries, and Thinking about the Playwright. He has also edited The Importance Of Scrutiny (1964), a collection of pieces from a now defunct critical magazine, and Thirty Years of Treason: Excerpts from Hearings Before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1938–1968 (1971). His most-produced play, Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been (more properly Are You Now or Have You Ever Been: The Investigations of Show-Business by the Un-American Activities Committee 1947-1958), published in 1972, was based on the transcripts collected in Thirty Years of treason.[96954] Another play, Lord Alfred's Lover, treats on Oscar Wilde.

Critical works


  • "A Man's A Man" by Bertolt Brecht Year of Release 1963
  • Bentley on Biermann: Songs and Poems of Wolf Biermann Year of Release 1968
  • Bentley on Brecht: Songs and Poems of Bertolt Brecht Year of Release 1965
  • Bertolt Brecht before the Committee on Un-American Activities: An Historical Encounter
  • Bertolt Brecht's The Exception and the Rule Year of Release 1965
  • Eric Bentley Sings The Queen of 42nd Street Year of Release 1970
  • Songs of Hanns Eisler Year of Release 1964
  • The Elephant Calf and Small Comments on Large Themes Year of Release 1968

Dramatic works


External links

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