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The Trial is the artistic equivalent of the denatured human relationships of the bourgeous world. What undermines Joseph K's humanity is 'the rupture of his daily world' (p. 148). Lukacs's difficulty with Kafka stems from the very character of his theory of realism. On the one hand he regards realism as the characteristic of all great art and, on the other, sees Balzac, Tolstoy and Mann as the representatives of this mode. His concept of the typical, fashioned in terms of the generic distinctions between drama and the novel, envisages certain climactic moments of history when the outside forces interact with the individual destiny of characters. Since Kafka's novel does not yield to this interpretation, Lukacs finds in it a decadent outlook. Vazquez's strength is in suggesting that Kafka's world exists 'within the framework of historically determined human relations' (p. 153), and that it exists 'realistically ' as both an embodiment and a criticism of the actual world. Whereas Lukacs postulates a certain typology of the realistic novel (narration vs description ), Vazquez accepts the position that significant climactic moments are no longer available to Kafka. His 'decadence' is the concrete expression of the reified human relationships at a particular moment in history. Kafka is the representative 'poet' of modernism. The immanent nostalgia of Lukacs's worldview inevitably makes him hostile to modernism. If realism, as Vazquez rightly understands it, is a critical exploration of a given reality, then there can be no infallible criteria for measuring its success or failure in a novel. Here Vazquez's position is closer to Brecht's who also found Lukacs's idea of realism constrained in scope. In the famous debate Brecht found the place of realism in the appropriation of a new art arising from new social relationships, thereby precluding any univalent criteria of judgment. Vazquez asks for nothing less than the total mobilization of the resources of craft and not a simple operation of one or two methodological tools. He offers no easy nostrums for realistic writing. The signal merit of Art and Society is in the fact that it asks fundamental questions even if it does not give the right answers for them all. M. L Raina People's Theatre in Amerika. Karen Malpede Taylor. Drama Book Specialties, 1972. Karen Taylor is the first person coming from the Sixties' experiments in avant garde and socially-conscious theater to write a book hooking it all up with American social drama of the preceding decades, particularly the Depression Thirties. Formerly a drama student and critic at the University of Wisconsin in the springtime of the "counter culture", now with an M.F.A. in theater from Columbia University, Ms. Taylor is currently creating a "people's theater" in Vermont, the jacket blurb tells us. Such a book needed to be written. One of the curious phenomena of Sixties' theater and the New Left politics that influenced it is that activists in both arenas behaved as if America had no history, no Left tradition. The "Old Left", as the entire American Communist and Socialist movements were scornfully designated, was regarded as little more than a gaggle of amateur and mechanical Marxists who laid their misplaced faith at the door of a fickle 120 working class. Similarly, theater activists looked to Brecht and Artaud rather than John Howard Lawson or Clifford Odets for hints on how to escape the moist lavender angst emanating from Tennessee William's hothouse. There were good reasons : something did go awry with the Left in the Thirties and Forties before it was smashed in the Fifties by elected representatives to Congress. The cloying moodiness of Odets bridged that of O'Neill and Williams but added little to the techniques and vocabulary of social militancy. What has been needed — to understand the failures and successes of socially-conscious theater both then and now — is an analysis of the American theater tradition in the context of social struggles, and a sound methodology for examining the relation between form and content, consciousness and conditions. Unfortunately, People's Theater in Amerika does not fulfill that need, although it does make available hard-to-find material from and about the plays...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 120-122
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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