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Book Reviews 135 one in order to effectively disrupt historical constructions of power, but a privileged "materialist" analysis all too often forgets the materiality beyond white male concern. Within the realm of textual production, the narrative playing with itself produces only self-indulgent ejaculation. In a dosing moment, Gidal unwittingly denies any trace of materiality he may have implemented in his analysis: J guess I should say that I have loved Beckett's work since first reading Endgaine and Krapp's Last Tape in 1963. have been involved with it mentally since then . So this isn't some academic 'choice' for a book; there was no choice for me [my emphasis]. This closing gesture locates Gidal's very own "materialist feminist" project outside of the material (historical) construction of criticism and signals his real desire to abstract not only Beckett's work, but his own critical production from the domain of material analysis. The opposition between "academic" choice and "no" choice is a construction which denies the possibility of any space other than a "bourgeois" or a vaguely meta-physical one. Why was there no choice for Gida)? Does his lack ofchoice thus also remove his analysis from the realm of historical choices, and thus remove him from material (and thus ideological) responsibility for his own critical discourse? Such a gesture locates Gidal's model beyond material intervention and thus reproduces the very ideology of naturalization he claims to dis-locate. Gidal's failure clearly demonstrates the need to interrupt the reproduction of male-identified production, especially when it constructs itself as "materialist feminist." He unwittingly teaches us that the dangers of reproducing that which we claim to explode are all too real - regardless ofthe seemingly radical critical garb we may don. N. KIM LANGFORD, CORNELL UN1VERSITY M1CHELENE WANOOR. Carry On, Understudies: Theatre and Sexual Politics. London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1986. pp. xxi, 210. £5.95 (PB). This revised and updated version of the 1981 Understudies published by Methuen, but since allowed to go out of print, testifies to the fact that the poet, dramatist and Time Out critic Michelene Wandor is a remarkably thorough and keen theatre historian. She has charted the course of feminist and gay dramaturgic exploration in the British theatre during the 1970S and the first half of the 1980s. These new approaches throw a strong spotlight upon an awakening social and political awareness. As she herself points out, the revised edition is not merely a factual document of what was evolving (although it is also this), but a mixture ofcommentary and documentation based on a history which is now clearly viewed and debated. Before Michelene Wandoredited four volumes ofPlays by Women for Methuen, most Book Reviews of these texts were unavailable. In her role as a theatre critic, Wandor sawall of these productions, which she approaches as a feminist, a socialist and a playwright. Her book is invaluable for students of the theatre and of the feminist movement (in this order). One of the main points she makes is that although women "have been formative in the development of the novel as a literary genre ... as playwrights [they] scarcely figure on the literary map" (p. 121), The first professional woman dramatist in Britain was the scandalous Aphra 8eho, who was reviled for her sexual and personal independence although admired for her art. Today, in the publishers' professional selections, the number ofwomen dramatists as compared to men "drops to below 10 percent" (p. 124). Wandor offers some explanations: men dominate the economic and artistic decisions in the theatre; play-writing is a public art which requires an authoritative voice; a woman must find her own voice and also lend a voice to her dramatis personae. As a result, women have "rarely contributed to the development of epic drama" (p. 128), but in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have been able to carve out a space for themselves by offering stage presentations of family life. However, as the women's movement is becoming increasingly politicized, the stage for women playwrights is widening. as is "the range of potential voice and subject matter" (p. 128). Wandor detects three tendencies in feminism: Radical Feminism, Bourgeois...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 135-137
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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