Lionel Abel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Lionel Abel (1910–2001) was an eminent American playwright, essayist and theater critic. His first success was a tragedy, Absalom, staged off-Broadway in 1956.[1] It was followed by three other works of drama, before he turned to criticism. After teaching appointments at Columbia and Rutgers Universities and at the Pratt Institute, he concluded his academic career in the English Department of the University at Buffalo, before retiring to New York City. He is best known for coining the term metatheatre in his book of the same title. He is also the author of several important translations from the French, including texts by André Breton and Guillaume Apollinaire. A lively and sometimes cantankerous polemicist, he counted numerous members of his generation's intellectual elite among his friends and sparring partners, including Delmore Schwartz, Meyer Schapiro, Clement Greenberg, Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, Lionel Trilling, James Agee, Mary McCarthy, Hannah Arendt, Leslie Fiedler and Elizabeth Hardwick.

Born in Brooklyn, Abel was the son of Alter Abelson, a rabbi and poet, and of Anna Schwartz Abelson, a writer of short stories. Jean-Paul Sartre called Abel the most intelligent man in New York City. He was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto.[2]


  1. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (April 25, 2001). "Lionel Abel, 90, Playwright and Essayist". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Humanist Manifesto II". American Humanist Association. Retrieved October 4, 2012.