Thesis

The artist's mirror image : the autobiographical nature of Sam Shepard's work

The following paper is a study of the work of playwright Sam Shepard as a direct reflection of the man himself. Shepard is considered by some to be the greatest American playwright ever, and by most to be the outstanding, and indeed most prolific, dramatist of his time. Shepard has not only surpassed his contemporaries in volume of work produced and awards received, but in recent years has also experienced a somewhat meteoric rise as a film actor and screenwriter, as well as an author of prose. It is the contention of this study that all of Shephard’s work, film work and prose pieces as well as his plays, is a uniquely autobiographical product. Unlike the autobiographical appearance of the work of other writers, Shepard’s is a deep and moving reflection of not only his external life, but most importantly it is a direct extension of the artist’s inner hauntings. At the same time, the study deals with the fact that while providing a shocking and intriguing portrait of the artist himself, his work becomes a reflection of the frightened, confused, and hungry contemporary American culture that spawned him.

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