Oedipus the King

Scope and Content

This series contains drafts of Burgess's adaptation of Sophocles' play, his introduction to his translation of the text, a galley proof of Burgess's adaptation (prior to publication), and an etymological dictionary, compiled by an unknown individual for Burgess, possibly in support of this project. The series also includes draft lyrics for a sacrificial chant in reconstructed Indo-European, a theatre programme for the original production of the play at the Guthrie Theatre in 1972, and a carbon-copy of Stanley Silverman's score for the cantata, used by Burgess in his role as narrator in 1973.

For publicity shots from performances of Oedipus the King at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and rehearsals and back-stage photographs relating to the concert performance of King Oedipus, for Speaker, Chorus, and Orchestra at the Whitney Museum in New York, see AB/ARCH/F: Photographic collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael Langham, Artistic Director at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota commissioned Burgess to write a new English translation of Sophocles' play, Oedipus the King, in 1972. The production opened at the Guthrie Theater on 24 October 1972. Performances were accompanied by a series of Indo-European chants, composed by Stanley Silverman to a text by Burgess, which anticipated the languages Burgess would later devise for the 1981 film Quest for Fire, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud.

After Oedipus the King opened, Burgess and Silverman adapted the script and music for concert performance as King Oedipus, for Speaker, Chorus, and Orchestra. The cantata was presented on 16 May 1973 at the Whitney Museum in New York, with Burgess narrating.

Access Information


Records described as being in a fair or poor condition are available to researchers in consultation with the Archivist.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The majority of records within this series are in a good condition, with the exception of three items.