- The Theatre of Frustration: Super Realism in the Dramatic Work of F.X. Kroetz and Michel Tremblay by Renate Usmiani, and: The Theater of Franz Xaver Kroetz by Ingeborg C. Walther (review)
- Modern Drama
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 37, Number 2, Summer 1994
- pp. 369-371
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Book Reviews of the time is also revelatory: Ghelderode's first hero, Julien Deladoes; his earliest admirer and promoter, the theatre historian, Camille Poupeye; one of the only letters he ever wrote to his wife-to-be, Jeanne Gerard; and to various theatre directors to whom he was appealing to get his early works produced. Not only does this correspondance provide us with missing information about Ghelderode's early relationships, but it allows us a glimpse of his developing powers of writing as well. These two works, the Bibliographie and Correspondance, the latter as yet only the beginning of a growing tome, represent years of devoted searching, interviewing, and checking on the part of Prof. Beyen. They are indispensable for any library which pretends to give a complete offering of twentieth-century letters, and, together with Beyen 's other works, contribute significantly to an incrementally growing portrait of a fascinating artist and his work. The third recent work of significance in elucidating the Ghelderode canon is Jacqueline Blancart-Cassou's Le Rire de Michel de Ghelderode, the first book-length critical work on the texts to be brought out in eight years, and one of the most insightful ever. Significant chiefly for her unprecedented delving into smaller, less known work, Prof. Blancart-Cassou unearths key discoveries from such tiny (mostly early) plays as Thes de bois (Blockheads, 1924), Venus (1927), Le voleur des etoiles (The Star Thief, 1931), and Noyade des songes (Dreams Drowning, 1928). From these little gem-like oneacters , she extrapolates general tendencies which she then applies throughout the oeuvre. Departing from the premise that Ghelderode devised a personal kind of comedy (not a new idea in and of itself) based on a denial of the tragic, a refusal to face terror, and an impulse to stand up to Ghelderode's various personal hobgoblins, Prof. BlancartCassou explores many of the plays in an unprecedentedly meticulous and ingenious way. Even those works not primarily known for their comic tone yield great riches of understanding when approached from the standpoint of the Ghelderodian teeth-grinding laugh. Insofar as purely textual criticism is concerned, Prof. Blancart-Cassou's book is arguably the most valuable written to date. DAVID WILLINGER, CITY COLLEGE AND THE GRADUATE CENTER, CUNY RENATE USMIANI. The Theatre of Frustration: Super Realism in the Dramatic Work of FX. Kroetz and Michel Tremblay. New York & London: Garland 1990. Pp. 216. $70.00. INGEBORG C. WALTHER. The Theater ofFranz Xaver Kroetz. Studies in Modern German Literature Vol. 40. New York: Peter Lang 1990. pp. 275. $47.95. Franz Xaver Kroetz, one of the most prolific and popular contemporary German dramatists , has been gaining a steady following in the English-speaking theatre during the past decade, as more and more of his works are performed in translation. It is therefore not surprising the see that several major studies of his dramatic work have appeared in 370 Book Reviews English in recent years, primarily in the form of (published) dissertations (Blevins, Hoffmeister, Klaic, Nevin). Of the two studies under consideration here, Walther's Theater ofFranz Xaver Kmetz originated in that category, while Usmiani's Theatre of Frustration seems to be an outgrowth of her earlier work on the Canadian dramatist Michel Tremblay. Of these two studies, Walther's is considerably more substantial and proposes a nuanced, original framework for the critical assessment of Kroetz's dramatic works (up to De,. Weihnachtstod) that will be of interest to Kroetz specialists and scholars working in the area of the critical Volksstiick or German drama of the seventies and eighties. In contrast, the strength of Usmiani's book lies in its treatment of Tremblay'S works and in the interesting premise of juxtaposing Kroetz and Tremblay within the broader esthetic category of Super Realism, although her actual treatment of these issues remains somewhat superficial and flawed in ways which will be discussed below. Walther's Theater of Franz Xaver Kmetz can be highly recommended to readers with some knowledge of German (quotes are cited in the original, at times in K.roetz's dialect idiom). The study is divided into ten chapters, in which the author introduces Kroetz both in the context of the critical Volksstiick...