- Bibliographie de Michel de Ghelderode by Roland Beyen, and: Correspondance Michel de Ghelderode: 1919-1927 by Roland Beyen, and: Le Rire de Michel de Ghelderode by Jacqueline Blancart-Cassou (review)
- Modern Drama
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 37, Number 2, Summer 1994
- pp. 367-369
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Book Reviews ing comparisons between the three playwrights and some strange references to other contemporary plays and modes of drama - does Round Dance really anticipate German Expressionism? - Hauptmann, Wedekind, and Schnitzler are treated in isolation from each other and from the drama around them. The chapter on Hauptmann suggests that Peter Skrine is fully qualified to participate in the much-needed initiation of these playwrights into the repertoires of English-language theatres and the reading lists of schools and universities. Unfortunately, the excessively limited parameters of the Macmillan Modern Dramatists series and, one suspects, a certain haste both in the writing of the sections on Wedekind and Schnitzler and in the composition of the whole have prevented him from achieving this goal. SIMON WILLIAMS, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA ROLAND BEYEN. Bibliographie de Michel de Ghelderode. Brussels: Palais de Academies 1987. Pp. 838. ROLAND BEYEN. Correspondance Michel de Ghelderode: 1919-1927. Brussels: Editions Labor 199I. pp. 510. JACQUELINE BLANCART-CASSOU. Le Rire de Michel de Ghelderode. Paris: Klincksieck 1987. Pp. 300. Roland 8eyen, the preeminent international Ghelderode specialist and a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, has come out with two works of capital importance to studies of Michel de Ghelderode, the singular twentieth-century playwright: a comprehensive bibliography and the first of three volumes of correspondance. The Bibliographie must be unique of its genre, for not only is itextraordinarily thorough and extensively annotated, but in many places it reads like a novel. So far is it from that dry, scholarly entity we have come to expect a bibliography to be that it succeeds in greatly increasing our three-dimensional comprehension of Ghelderode, the man, his oeuvre, and the political and linguistic context out of which both emerged. Beyen, who has previously published a critical biography of Ghelderode as well as an extended analysis of his works, divides the Bibliographie into the following sections : Published Fiction, Published Non-Fiction. Published Correspondance, Unpublished Fiction, Unpublished Non-Fiction; Published and Unpublished Interviews; Published Books and Articles; Reviews of Theatrical Presentations, Radio Emissions, Television Emissions, Musical Adaptations; Unpublished Doctoral Dissertations and Masters Theses; Other unpublished critical work. The most ambitious, but necessarily incomplete section is the listing of world-wide theatrical productions, since the obstacles to gathering a definitively complete one are overwhelming. SABAM, the writer's representatives charged with keeping track of the assigning of rights to theatre companies, has kept lamentably incomplete records. This Book Reviews coupled with such other factors as theatre companies' attempts to avoid paying for rights or the retitling of certain works to avoid the censor, as was common practice in Franco Spain for example, made Beyen's task triply difficult, although the chronicle of his encountering these difficulties has a piquancy all its own. Nonetheless, he has furnished accurate dates, names of director, producer, leading actors, and designers for each entry, as well as a listing of major reviews. For Beyen, in his quest for accuracy and completeness, has been a kind of Hercule Poirot, verifying the least detail through several sources before accepting its correctness. He attempts to situate the exact moment when the conception for a given work popped into Ghelderode's mind and to reconstruct the vicissitudes ofeach work's evolution: the number ofdrafts, the interruptions, the rununciations, and refinements. He reports on the most minute changes which have been wrought on a given work through its various stages and ventures to explain why these changes were made and how they alter the ultimate effect. The writing is sometimes most interesting when describing a work Ghelderode never completed, such as his epic novel, Willem de Sa/tingen, about the plan of which Beyen devotes three dense pages. This example of the way Beyen reconstructs and interprets scattered notes he has obtained vividly illustrates Ghelderode's work process as well as his highly developed psychic processes of self-torture. The Bibliographie is written with the complementary virtues of extreme exactitude and pleasant lucidity of style. Here is a confrontation between subject and enthusiast which results in a more intimate acquaintance with both. The Correspondance de Michel de Ghelderode: 19I~I927 is equally tantalizing for the Ghelderodian. The author of Escurial and Pantagleize was...