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BOOK NOTES a survey ofcritical receptions oflate nineteenth and early twentieth-century theatre and to attest to the caliber and range ofa journal is variety and distinction. Rosenberg 's fine essay from 1963-64, late in the collection, on the antihumanism of Pirandello's infinite, reflective negativity in the face ofthe realities of Italy during and after Mussolini, initiates the arc ofModernist theatre criticism which the most recent—and first essay in the collection—begins, Johnston's reconsideration of temporality and recovery ofthe past as features not merely of Wagner and Yeats but as characteristic ofthe apparently revolutionary Ibsen. The practitioner essays about the craft and experience ofperformance by Knowlson and Cohn on Beckett and Styan on Pirandello, for example, connect the literary, aesthetic, and ideological to the performative, marking theatre as both a distinct genre and as participating in an international consideration of the role of the author, the nature of modern subjectivity, and the patterns ofvictimage. The collection balances Carlson's elegant structuralist reading ofIbsen's Rosmersholm with Parker's intertextual critique oftransgressive gender in Strindberg's Miss Julie. Marker and Innes complement Fuchs's French Feminist critique ofthe metaphysics ofIbsen's Ladyfrom the Sea with Paolucci's precise, cultural analysis ofPirandello's Sicilianism and Zeifman's ontological analysis ofthe effect ofBeckett's Notion its unsuspecting audience. Indeed, it is perhaps the final playwright, Beckett, the foremost object ofinternational study, who best exemplifies the strength ofthis book. As remarkable as each essay is, and all are strong and provocative, the collection as a whole exceeds the sum ofits parts. It succeeds not only in presenting a valuable resource on its quartet ofselected authors and a case for Modernism as a meaningful category in theatre history and theory; it offers an introduction to theatre studies as a whole. Its strengths lie both in its substantive richness and in its methodological diversity ranging from deconstruction and gender studies, to theatre history and formalism. The collection ideally attests to the strength and possibilities ofthe publication from which its essays are culled and to the field ofmodern, dramatic studies as a whole. Elizabeth M. Richmond-GarzaUniversity ofTexas at Austin JONATHAN STRAUSS. Subjects ofTerror: Nerval, Hegel, andtheModern Self. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998. viii + 376 pp. The subtitle ofthe book neatly highlights its subject: this is a study of Gérard de Nerval (1808-55), the French Romantic poet, set offagainst a philosophical tradition associated mainly with Hegel and his descendants. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), which traces the forms and development of human consciousness, was not generally known in French, indeed not translated, until 1939-41. But Nerval was quite aware ofHegel, and his knowledge ofGerman must have been considerable ; he translated Goethe's Faust when he was only twenty. Nerval and Hegel here represent the extremities ofa widely held view ofhuman existence during the Romantic phase ofEuropean history—that the most important quality ofmind or spirit was simply self-awareness. The English poets Wordsworth and Coleridge instinctively dramatized this subject, with Wordsworth (an exact contemporary of Hegel) elaborating it in The Prelude, a kind ofepic of self-awareness written several years before the Phenomenology. As for Coleridge, his "Dejection: An Ode" (1802) was perhaps the most candid self-examination yet written by any European. What Proust wrote about Nerval (in his essay quoted by Jonathan Strauss) could easily describe the Coleridge ofthis poem: "Ifever a writer [. . .] sought to define Vol. 25 (2001): 188 ??? COHPAnATIST himselfpainstakingly to himself, to grasp and bring to light the murky shadings, the deepest laws and most elusive impressions of the human soul, it was Gérard de Nerval." Proust, incidentally, considered Nerval, along with Balzac and Baudelaire, to be one ofthe three most important French writers of the nineteenth century. Hegel's conception ofabsolute freedom, suggested by the French Revolution, is part ofa dialectic in which the Universal is realized in empirical existence. Individual experience, however, is subject to time and historical process, and in the end it becomes impersonal and abstract as it is absorbed in the large universal process. The contemplation ofthis great void (this Hegelian context) inevitably brings only terror—hence the title ofthe book. In his second chapter, "Death-Based Subjectivity ," Strauss...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 188-190
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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