Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
MacLeish, Archibald

(1892-1982) US poet and dramatist, very eminent during his lifetime. Much of his work comprises narrative poems with dramatic elements, or plays written in verse. Of the former, The Pot of Earth (1925) conflates various Rites of Passage, including a dramatic rendering of the death of the Fertility god Artemis, and The Hamlet of A. MacLeish (1928) reincarnates Hamlet's father. Of AM's plays – several written for radio – Nobodaddy (1926) is based on Adam and Eve; The Fall of the City (1937), produced for radio by Orson Welles, sees an Aztec-like city warned of a fascist invasion by a Truth-Telling woman (> Oracle) who rises four times from the dead to predict disaster; J.B. (1958), by far his most famous work (it won for him his third Pulitzer Prize), is set in a Circus and features a supernatural Voice from the Whirlwind; Herakles (1967) conflates the Hero's life with that of Modern Man; and Scratch (1971) dramatizes "The Devil and Daniel Webster" (1936) by Stephen Vincent Benét. In The Great American Fourth of July Parade (1975), Presidents John Adams (1735-1826) and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) comment on the contemporary USA. [JC]

Archibald MacLeish


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.