Destruction of Landscape by the Forces of Commercial Industrialism in Maxwell Anderson’s play, High Tor

Gholamreza Samigorganroodi


This study examines Maxwell Anderson’s play High Tor that is an aesthetic engagement with nature and dramatizes Anderson’s environmental sensibilities. The play is a satirical fantasy in verse loaded with allusions, symbolism and philosophical meditation, dramatizing the end of America’s pioneering tradition. High Tor refers to a mountain overlooking the Hudson River, only a few miles away from Anderson’s home in New City in the district of New York. The name derives from Celtic lore and means a sacred and holy place where people commune with the gods. The area where High Tor stands is steeped in history, legend and the supernatural. There are many accounts of ghosts haunting this historical mountain and the surrounding areas. In this play, Anderson makes use of the aura of mystery surrounding this region to dramatize the story of the protagonist, Van Dorn, and his struggle against the advancing forces of industrialism and materialism that threaten his independence and the pioneering values, pastoral tradition and the Arcadian beauty of the American wilderness. Keywords: American drama, the Great Depression, environment, American pastoral tradition, individualism

Full Text:



Aaron, D. (1961). Writers on the Left: Episodes in American Literary Communism. NY: Harcourt.

Aboriginal Spirituality (2010) Retrieved from http://www.aboriginalartstore.

Anderson, M. (1933) Both Your Houses: A Play in Three Acts. NY: Samuel French

---. High Tor. Eleven Verse Plays: 1929-1939. (1940). NY: Harcourt. 1-142.

---. Winterset. Eleven Verse Plays: 1929-1939. (1940). NY: Harcourt, 1940. 1-134.

Atkinson, B. (1937). “Maxwell Anderson’s High Tor.” New York Times 11 Jan., 15.

Avery, L. G., ed. (1977). Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912- 1958. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P.

Dewey, J. (1931). Individualism Old and New. London: George Allen and Unwin.

Filene, P. G. (1986). Him / Her / Self: Sex Roles in Modern America. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP.

Flexner, E. (1969). American Playwrights: 1918-1938: The Theatre Retreats from Reality. NY: Books for Libraries.

Giannachi, G, and Nigel, S. (2005). “Introduction”. Performing Nature: Explorations in Ecology and the Arts. Eds. Gabriella Giannachi and Nigel Stewart. Bern: Peter Lang, 19-62.

Kershaw, B. (2005). “The Ecologies of Performance: On Biospheres and Theatres.” Performing Nature: Explorations in Ecology and the Arts. Eds. Gabriella Giannachi and Nigel Stewart. Bern: Peter Lang, 65-84.

Krutch, J.W. (1957). The American Drama Since 1918: An Informal History. NY: George Braziller.

Marx, L. (1967). The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. NY: Oxford UP.

Shivers, A. S. (1983). The Life of Maxwell Anderson. NY: Stein and Day.

---. (1976). Maxwell Anderson. Boston: Twayne.

Speranza, T. (1995). “Recognizing the Frontier of American Manhood: Maxwell

Sullivan, J., & Garrett, A. (1998). The Drama of Landscape: Land, Property, and Social Relations on the Early Modern Stage. Stanford: Stanford UP.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2013-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.