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Reviews163 two plays. Misprints are comparatively few. The odd inconsistency in style is found in "Works Cited" (at times the volume number is omitted for periodicals; "Berceo" is mixed in with "Beckerman") . I am puzzled by the use of "the former category" and "the latter" at the top of page 108. At the end of the paragraph Torres Naharro's classifications are quite clear, but at the beginning seem to be reversed. René Pedro Garay is to be congratulated on a very modern study well done. As Massaud Moisés put it in the "Preface" (as translated), Garay has elaborated "an essay which insribes itself definitely in the Vicentine bibliography as one of the most valuable contributions in recent years" (page xix) . Jack H. Parker, Emeritus University of Toronto Zahareas, Anthony N., ed. Plays and Playhouses in Imperial Decadence. Special Number of Ideologies & Literature. Minneapolis : The Prisma Institute, 1986. 118 pp. The volume begins with an introduction by the Editor, who explains how it grew out of a series of panels at the Midwest Modern Language Association centering on new readings of the Hispanic canon. Ruth El Saffar's "Reason's Unreason in Life Is a Dream," the final study in the collection, is credited with providing the impetus for this series of panels, in 1983. A study more to be reckoned with for the moment is Walter Cohen's Drama of a Nation (1985) . The lead essay is an abstract of that work. It proposes an interpretation "shaped by an eclectic but totalizing Marxism" (14), employing notions like "artisanal base and absolutism superstructure" (19), and pointing to "the drama's subversive political efficacy during the seventeenth century and radical potential today" (14). Fuenteouejuna, in the last two centuries, "has accompanied revolutionary upsurges, making it our most precious legacy from Golden Age Theater" (21) . The prism through which we view texts can color interpretation and evaluation in interesting ways. La vida es sueño is said to offer "a virtual catalogue of romance motifs" (22). But Cohen's concern with genology is more marginal than central; Calderón's recourse to romance merely anticipates Marx, for "Marxists insist that human history can have the structure of romance. Precisely in its utopianism. . . romance offers a vision not of the prehistory we live in class society but of that authentic history that may some day succeed it" (23) . If Calderón had been a tad more prescient, he might have titled his text La pre-historia es sueño. 164BCom, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Summer 1990) In the next piece, Frank Casa puts matters into clearer focus, dismissing the notion of class struggle as an informing principle of the comedia and calling attention to Cohen's anachronizing tendencies, while simultaneously refuting Diez Borque's view of the form as propaganda for the establishment. Charlotte Stern's "Lope de Vega, Propagandist?" (BCom 34.1 [1982]: 1-36) could have buttressed his comments substantially. Stephen Summerhill then grapples with Cohen's thesis on a more theoretical plane. He credits Cohen with attempting, under the aegis of Jameson and Eagleton, to reconcile deterministic Marxism with more indeterministic sociological approaches, but concludes that "Cohen's understanding [is] ultimately inadequate because still too determinate" (50) . Almost half of this slender volume is thus devoted to presentation and discussion of Walter Cohen's Marxist/sociological reading of the comedia. While Cohen's book—like all polemical studies—has the merit of making us look again at our own critical assumptions, it is my sense that Casa and Summerhill have put his project into proper perspective. Concerning the Editor's "urgent question of whether it is possible to develop an analysis of Golden Age plays that represents a genuine synthesis of formalist and historical perspectives" (7), William R. Blue's Comedia: Art and History (New York: Peter Lang, 1989) has subsequently addressed that issue with more than moderate success. The next essay is by Nicholas Spadaccini, on Cervantes and the comedia. He follows Maravall and Diez Borque quite closely on the sociological side, turning to Canavaggio and Friedman for the aesthetic dimension. A major point is that Cervantes redirected his comedias and entremeses to the private world of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 163-165
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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