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Book Reviews STEVEN H. BILLS. Lillian Hellman: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing 1979. Pp. xix, 228. MARY MARGUERITE RIORDAN. Lillian Hellman, A Bibliography: 1926-1978. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press 1980. Pp. xxxiv, 210. While Lillian Hellman has become an icon, a legend, a cult figure in her lifetime, to use the more common appellations in the popular media, academic types have been slow in supplying the critical apparatus necessary to encourage substantial graduate work on Hellman. Although these two bibliographies have errors and omissions, they will make it easier for the Docs and post-Docs, as Hellman calls us. The two books differ in organization and coverage. Riordan's book contains a spirited introduction (Riordan is the better writer; Bills, the better annotator) and a detailed chronology. Th~ first four sections of the Riordan bibliography list hard-bound editions of Hellman's plays (one edition ofWatch on the Rhine is omitted), screenplays by Hellman or based on her works (Riordan locates scripts of these films), books by or edited by Hellman, and "contributions to newspapers and periodicals." These are useful lists; Bills unaccountably omits this material. Riordan also lists unpublished works, letters and manuscripts in special collections (the latter quite useful but not quite complete), and audio and video recordings. None ofthis material is in Bills's book. IfRiordan had done no more, her book would be useful. Beginning with "Books about and References in Books to Lillian Hellman, Dissertations and Theses," however, Riordan's selection, arrangement, and annotation exhibit some quirkiness. The alphabetical arrangement necessarily mingles the important and the trivial indiscriminately. Bills lists dissertations and theses separately. Bill's organization is perhaps more logical, and his annotations, with some exceptions, generally go to the heart of the work annotated. A glaring exception is his annotation ofElizabeth Hardwick's hitjob on Hellman in theNew York Review ofBooks: "Summarizes the plot [of The Little Faxes]. Provides no critical comment." Riordan remarks correctly that the piece "provoked much discussion," although her annotation does not convey the feeling of the article. Riordan also lists the letters to the editor from Poirier, Gilliatt, and Felicia Montealegre (the late Mrs. Leonard Bernstein) and the open letter to Mike Nichols by Edmund Wilson, although her annotation ofWilson misses the sense of the piece. If the acknowledgments in these two books did not indicate the focus ofresearch, the contents would. Bills obviously looked carefully at the files and the books at the Lincoln Center Library of the Performing Arts. Consequently, his coverage and annotations of the material in that collection are much more thorough than Riordan's. Riordan, on the other hand, apparently worked out ofCalifornia and consequently lists many more items connected with Hellman's film work, including an unpublished script for The Negro Soldier in World War II. Both books have value; a comparison oflistings may reveal, however, the necessity of consulting both (and of going beyond them). Bills lists John Hersey's tribute to Hellman, but fails to say that it was occasioned by the presentation of the MacDowell Award. Riordan does not list Roughead's Bad Companions from which Hellman got the idea for The Children's Hour. Riordan's askew ('Innotations or failture to annotate can irritate. One wonders if both bibliographers saw every item they list, although neither indicates otherwise. Bills, too, can be misleading. His annotation of Joseph Wood Book Reviews Krutch on Hellman in The AmericanDrama Since 1918 reads as follows: "Calls CH and LF 'genuine tragedies. '" Krutch actually says that neither play "can be called genuine tragedy ifthat term is assumed to imply some resolution of the emotional tension which tragedy sets up. Indeed, the somewhat unsual effect ofboth plays depends in part upon the dissonances upon which they conclude.... " They are both wrong on the Richard Stem interview, taped at the University of Chicago, published in Contact #3 (1959). Bills says that Watch on the Rhine and The LittleFoxes "are the primary concern ofthe article." Riordan is almost right: "LH tells of the ideas out of which Toys came, of how she feels about the women in Foxes." Unfortunately, she adds "of the play she has in mind but for which she...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 385-387
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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