In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

ELT: Volume 33:2, 1990 nificance. Arnold Silver's 1982 biographical/psychological study, Bernard Shaw: The Darker Side, would serve to enlighten Dietrich in that regard. Dietrich is good on Shaw, and the Irish Theatre which receives its own chapter. The chapter on verse drama 1930-50, while containing good points, overlooks numerous other dramatists as though Dietrich cannot wait to get to the interesting material of the 1950s and 60s, which unfortunately for him he cannot cover in the confines of his book. He gives space to a redundant chapter on the national theatre while at other times he will enumerate numerous dramatists he has not got space to cover, referring the reader to Nicoll's English Drama, 1900-1930 which he characterizes as merely a Cook's tour. Much of Dietrich's commentary comprises plot summaries of particular plays and when he is clearly not engaged by a dramatist he relies heavily on other critics for interpretation and evaluation. There are also numerous factual mistakes of which the following are the more egregious: Pinero acted at the Atheneum theatre (Lyceum); H. A. Jones was born in the West Country village of Gandborough, Buckinghamshire (Grandborough; and definitely not the West Country); Marie O'Neill (Maire); J. B. Priestly (Priestley); A Cocktail Party (The). Some readers may be charmed by Dietrich's frequently casual and demotic style, but I question whether "nifty" really has a place in the critical lexicon. So this work fails to do justice to drama and theatre 1890-1950 which I would argue cannot be divorced from each other. It is good on Shaw and some other dramatists but the inexperienced need to be cautioned that there is a great deal more to this genre than appears here. This is also not an auspicious start to Twayne's Critical History of British Drama series which appears to be dogged by some of the formulaic features that characterized the Twayne authors series. J. P. Wearing University of Arizona Generic Modes and Historical Moods Randall Craig. The Tragicomic Novel: Studies in a Fictional Mode from Meredith to Joyce. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1989. 191 pp. $28.50 RANDALL CRAIG ARGUES that fiction in the tragicomic mode is conflictedly dualistic in its themes, self-consciously dialectical in its expression, anti-systemically self-referential in its narrative field, and 242 Book Reviews ironically admissive (e.g., of the inability of the mode to contain its refractory elements) in its semiotic field. So contrary are the aesthetic effects of this mode that they force readers into a dialogical response. Denied the comfort of conventional or firm resolutions, readers of tragicomedy cannot simply polarize toward empathy (as with tragedy) or toward detachment (as with comedy). These readers, Craig contends , must continue to deal with antithetical feelings and thoughts. As this summary suggests, Craig is very much influenced by Mikhail Bakhtin's observations about genre and, especially, about heteroglossia (a polyglot of competing voices in a text that remains essentially unrecoverable and unresolvable). After tracing features of tragicomedy in Plato's Symposium, Craig applies his definition of the mode in close readings of Meredith's Diana of the Crossways, James's The Awkward Age, Bennett's The Old Wives' Tale, Gerhardie's TAe Polyglots, and Joyce's Ulysses. Rarely distorting a point in the text to suit his thesis, Craig's readings are careful and sensitive. His approach highlights important tensions and aesthetic features in these books. As insightful as his approach is, however, Craig's theoretical apparatus evidences one major flaw, which was avoidable. In explaining his operating theory Craig asserts at several points the belief that the study of modes, like that of genres, "is theoretical not historical." Craig subscribes to Alastair Fowler's claim that modes are even "less historically circumscribed" than genres. So Craig refuses to consider the situation, the time frame, of the novels he studies. The only justification he gives for focusing on the fiction of the turn-of-thecentury and early twentieth century is that he hopes to show how an appreciation of the tragicomic mode broadens the definition of realism, a term applied by authors to very diverse works at that time. Thus, "while...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 242-245
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.