Published by Element in 1995
Price £14.99/$24.95 (Can $33.99)
In Collected Verse Plays, published by O Books in May 2007
Three and a half centuries after the form declined c.1640, Nicholas Hagger revived verse drama with The Warlords, which dramatizes the different ideologies of the warlords of the Second World War: Montgomery, Eisenhower, Hitler, Stalin and Churchill.
Nicholas Hagger’s first verse drama was written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE Day, which fell in May 1995. The play covers the period from D-Day in June 1944 to November 1945, after the Nazi surrender, and focuses on the struggle between each of the principal characters – Churchill, Eisenhower, Hitler and Stalin – to be overlord of Europe and of the world. Behind the conflicts of the warlords can be seen the workings of the mystic Light in contemporary history. The play explores the role of an embryonic world government in shaping the outcome of the Second World War, and in particular its influence in cutting Britain down to size.
The play presents a Tolstoyan panorama of the last year of the war, and places contemporary European history within the context of the Christian Fire or Light, exemplified by the illumined figure of Montgomery. Those familiar with Hagger’s The Fire and the Stones will know that he sees a metaphysical vision as being crucial to the growth of civilizations. By linking this vision to the theme of war in the dramatic context of The Warlords, he makes it more accessible to the general reader. The main issues are discussed in a prefatory essay.
The Front Flap Says
With over two hundred characters, The Warlords is a panoramic two-part verse drama about the last year of the Second World War. In the two-part tradition of Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great and Shakespeare’s Henry the Fourth, The Warlords focuses on the fortunes of General Montgomery after D-Day, and his conflict with General Eisenhower. This work presents the leadership of the religious, illumined Montgomery, Hitler (who is driven by a dark power) and the materialist Stalin and their commanders during a momentous year which threw up many of the issues that have dominated the last 50 years: the Russian domination of Eastern Europe; the atomic bomb; the rise of American world power; the decline of British world power, which can be dated back to the demotion of Montgomery on 1st September 1944; the dream of a unified Europe; the Final Solution of the Jewish problem which saw five million Jews killed; and the need for a world government.
Like Tolstoy before him, Nicholas Hagger is concerned to understand the role of war in the metaphysical cosmos. This revival of verse drama, which looks back to T.S. Eliot and Christopher Fry, explores the universal theme of the relationship between power and good in contemporary history.
Nicholas Hagger’s books reveal truths that have been hidden, and are rewarding. Hagger’s verse plays and his revival of verse drama bring a new approach to drama in our internationalist time.