20 Pages

Last to Go: A Structuralist Reading

The fact that this text (reprinted at the end of this essay) is so short allows us to ponder the question with the whole "play," as it were, present to our consciousness, and this is the reason I choose it for analysis. It has already been the object of an acute commentary by Deirdre Burton in her book Dialogue and Discourse: a Sociolinguistic Approach to Modern Drama Dialogue and Naturally Occurring Conversation (1980). What I have to say here is indebted to her work and also, I hope, complementary to it. As her subtitle implies, her approach derives primarily from applied linguistics; mine from structuralist poetics. Behind the question, what makes "Last to Go" a work of dramatic art, there is for me a larger question: what makes any text a work of art?