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

137 pattern and his effort to exhume a deep cause for the pattern are not convincing; indeed, he does not seem entirely sure how he could make them convincing. Though Cohen has already turned his dissertation into a book, he might still consider trying to get some solid articles out of it. SUNY at Stony Brook Bruce W. Bashford 4. The Problem Play - Still a Problem Elliott M. Simon. The Problem Play in British Drama 1890-1914 (SaIzburg « Institut fur Englische Sparache und Literatur Universität Salzburg, 1978). Doctoral dissertations obviously form a useful part of a graduate student's training and development, but I think that they should not receive undue emphasis in the general academic community. Nor am I convinced that the large industry which has now grown up around dissertations - for example, Dissertation Abstracts International and the ready availability of dissertations on microfilm - serves a truly helpful function. Rather,the permanently worthwhile elements of such work can be extrapolated and refined, to emerge as notes and articles, and, only very rarely, as books. What we don't need, and what the University of Salzburg is apparently giving us, is the wholesale publication in book form of essentially unrevised dissertations . And I think this is what we have in Simon's book. I regret to say I find little of value in Simon's work. Experts in the field will have read all his sources (and many more), while the inexperienced can only be misled by his oversimplification and errors of fact. For example, the Comedy Theatre is referred to (p. 2) as though it were open throughout the nineteenth century, when in fact it opened in 1881. T. W. Robertson and the Bancrofts are credited (pp. 21-22) with the introduction of realism into England, which misstates the truth. Simon also attributes much to the Stage Society so far as the development of acting goes, but appears to be unaware that actors were frequently on loan from the regular theatre managements (as were the producers), and also that rehearsal time was extremely limited. Such factors placed a severe constraint on any real developments in acting or directing techniques. It is also absolutely wrong to imply (p. 86) that Mrs. Patrick Campbell learned her acting skills with the Stage Society (or one of its equivalents): she acted in Adelphi melodramas until she was given her chance by Pinero in The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. And I could ennumerate many other errors. Simon's methodology is also fundamentally wrong. He sets himself the task of surveying many aspects of the English theatre in order to provide a background for his examination of how the problem play was handled by Jones, Pinero, Barrie, Galsworthy and GranvilleBarker . This approach necessitates repetition of ideas and information , and is tedious for the reader. Simon would have been better advised to have approached the topic in the manner indicated by his title - i.e. a generic approach. He could have given us some sort 138 of classification of the problem play common to the five dramatists, and demonstrated how the plays were treated similarly and dissimilarly . Then, in passing, Simon could have filled in any further background information and in a manner which would not have exposed his inadequacies. I must also protest against certain other irritating pretensions this work has. Dramatists, for example, are almost invariably given their full names every time they are cited. There are also frequent references to other literature which appear to be thrown in either because Simon has read something vaguely relevant or to bolster a not very fine point. Thus on pages 24-25 we are treated, for no real purpose, to a couple of paragraphs on "audience psychology" with references to Freud et al. On pages 81-82, after admitting that the influence of the Stanislavsky method "on English drama came late, if at all," Simon persists in writing about it. And, again, on pages 42-43, in writing about Ibsen, fifteen authors and eighteen book titles are mentioned leading to this piece of nonsense: "Ibsen's tragic idealism reflected his personal pessimistic view of life and his concern with the grand failure of the heroic personality...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 137-138
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
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.