An early associate of the surrealists, Antonin Artaud broke with them to form the "theater of cruelty" in 1932. His goal, set forth in his long essay The Theater and Its Double (1938), was to replace the contemporary theater, with its emphasis on psychology, by a theater of myth that would reintroduce the sacred into modern life. Experiments with drugs, coupled with a long history of psychiatric trouble, led to Artaud's commitment to a mental hospital for nine years. He remains a contemporary heir to the nineteenth-century antiestablishment poets and an inspiration to contemporary theoreticians of the theater.
Critic and writer Susan Sontag was born in New York City on January 16, 1933. She earned her B.A. from the University of Chicago and did graduate work in philosophy, literature and theology at Harvard University and Saint Anne's College, Oxford. She is the author of 17 books including four novels, a collection of short stories, several plays, and eight works of nonfiction. Her stories and essays have appeared in numerous magazines including The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and Art in America. She has also written and directed four feature films and stage plays in the United States and Europe. She has received numerous awards including the 2003 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the 2003 Prince of Asturias Prize, the 2001 Jerusalem Prize, the 2000 National Book Award for In America, and the 1978 National Book Critics Circle Award for On Photography. She died from leukemia on December 28, 2004.