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214 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY FROM SHAKESPEARE TO JOYCE~: Roy DANIELLS The mass of writing concerning Shakespeare-his life, his work, his times, his heroes, and ,his heroines-has long been an obstacle to more than ,intuitive appreciation of the plays. Many of us, shuddering at the corpus of Shakespearian criticism, decided early to find a way round rather than through it, and were later grateful when we discovered that Professor Stoll had cleared a path o'r two in the jungle by a process of simplification (which is not a simple process). He insists that the plays must be viewed objectively , in the achromatic light of the playwright's intention, and that this intention is the development of dramatic situation and npt the fabrication of characters which can be analysed as characters in real life. Such, with a variety of emphasis and the support of a polyglot erudition, has for more than a quarter-century 'been his theme. , The new book, From Shakespeare to joyce, is a continuation, or rather amplification, of Professor Stoll's previous work, and he is careful to establish the continuity. Here, as everywhere, he is 'the ideally rational and objective critic, of the school of Scherer. Works of literature, he insists , are not synonymous with life, not even with the lives of their authors; drama presents to its audience the emotional and the universal, embodied in stirring situations, at the cost of frequent divergence from the actual and violation of the probable. Shakespeare, Milton, and the plays of the Restor'ation again afford Professor Stoll materials for a convincing argument , in the course ofwhich familiar figures like Falstaff, Shylock, Jaques, and Belial take on a new objectivity. Objectivity, that is, in the sense ,that they are seen to be creatures of the stage, of the author's dramatic or epic intention: for this intention is Professor Stoll's polar star. He develops and elaborates the old lines: ' A perfect Judge will read each work of Wi t With the same spirit that its author writ. The,title of the book fails to indicate its thematic and polemic unity: three-quarters of it is devoted to showing conclusively that drama, reflecting the taste of its time rather than the time itself, is concerned first and last with situation even at the cost of probability. The title is also misleading in its implication that Professor Stoll is interested in contemporary writing. On the 'contrary, with gesture stern he repels "the present hapless era of- Unreason" a's a Ā«revolutionary age"-including, it appears, most if not 'all of the' nineteenth century. To the establishment of his critical position Professor Stoll brings an intensely rational mind and a staggering scholarship (to the reader, that is: the author has the shoulders of Hercules). His erudite method, his sense of the autonomy of the work of art, his fine ear for qualities of style: , these are instruments which he employs in the grand strategy of his demon- *From Shakespeare to Joyce. By ELMER EDGAR STOLL. Garden City, New York: DO:Ibleday, Doran and Co. 1944. Pp. xxii, 442. ($3.50) REVIEWS 215 stration. His argument drives on over all cipposition bf Romantic critics and the reader is carried with it resistlessly "o'er shields, and helms, and helmed heads." An exception may be noted in the last three chapters: these present a mellow consideration of Milton's romanticism, of his handling of space and time, and of the ~eautiful1y graduated approach ,to the close of Paradise Lost. "Some natural tears" may be excused as the reader leaves this oasis. It is at chapter eighteen, on psychoanalysis in criticism;however, that the book really bursts open. The author has already given many proofs of his distrust ofthe modern (not to mention the strictly contemporary) world. If there is a good word for' the present century, I have not found it. "He loves LlS not." He d!slikes equally our realistic sordidness and our (ferment of sentimentality and humanitarianism"; faced with "modernizing tendencies " he can offer only correction and reproof. It is to be imagined, then, what happens when the subject is James Joyce as interpreted by 1\1r. Edmund...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 214-216
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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