Beyond The Mountains
Theater by Kenneth Rexroth
Kenneth Rexroth’s sequence of four short plays, Beyond the Mountains, was first brought out by New Directions in 1951, then reprinted in 1966 by City Lights Books. Reviewing it for The New York Times, William Carlos Williams concluded, “I have never been so moved by a play in verse in my time.” His judgment having stood the test of time, the book is now being reissued as an ND Paperbook. “Phaedra” and “Iphigenia at Aulis,” set in the Greek heroic age, are recastings of old, familiar myths; while “Hermaios’’ and “Berenike” (collectively called “Beyond the Mountains”) take place at the start of the Christian era, in Hellenized Bactria, in the foothills of the present-day Hindu Kush. In substance, the plays are Rexroth’s personal interpretation of the elemental values of Greek civilization, and they also present a unified philosophic and lyric vision which relates to that of Rexroth’s finest poetry.