Recreating an American Myth: An Analytical Reading of Paul Bunyan by W. H. Auden and Benjamin Britten

  •  Alexander Chih-Yuan Mai    


One of the ability which music possesses is to evoke the audience’s sense of cultural and national identity. In the second half of the twentieth century, people can easily travel and relocate to a new country in order to search for a better living condition. However, with this newly found freedom, people’s sense of belonging and cultural identity has been put into serious doubts and tests. W. H. Auden and Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan encapsulates and foresees this phenomenon. Both have just arrived at the United States to escape from the war-torn Britain. Eager to find a voice to suit their new audience and symbolically swear allegiance to their newly adopted country, Auden and Britten employed an American founding myth in order to engage with their American patrons. Through a closed reading of Paul Bunyan, listeners will soon realize the inseparable notions between the musical presentation and its cultural identity. Furthermore, the story is told in the form of American musical theater, which is the artists’ ambitious attempt to capture the American optimism and spirit. This article intends to explore the notion of “myth narrative” in the genre of Music Theater; and how it reflects both the poet and the composers’ intention to obtain their sense of American identity.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1918-7173
  • ISSN(Online): 1918-7181
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: quarterly

Journal Metrics

  • Google-based Impact Factor (2021): 0.85
  • h-index (December 2021): 35
  • i10-index (December 2021): 262
  • h5-index (December 2021): 18  
  • h5-median(December 2021): 24

( The data was calculated based on Google Scholar Citations. Click Here to Learn More. )