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458Comparative Drama because no definition of erotic charisma exists in the sociological literature, although Weber does attend to the role ofthe erotic in charismatic groups, this is perhaps the most adventurous chapter in the book. It sets out to explain the phenomenon ofcharisma when "aim-inhibited libidinal" impulses are actually fulfilled. Two particularly interesting readings emerge from this chapter. The first explains the ambivalence behind Caesar's tribute to Antony's behavior on the retreat from Modena, the rational Roman's response to Antony's peculiarly Roman charismatic leadership. The second reading, which relies on other versions ofCleopatra, argues that Cleopatra's fall involves a retreat into Egyptian state religion and thus a retreat from the paradoxes ofan erotic charisma that depends on group validation but also on an exclusive absorption of the two lovers with one another. Raphael Falco concludes Charismatic Authority by hoping to see the book soon be superseded. Falco approaches his topic with almost a missionary zeal, and the result is a lively, different, and engaging exploration ofcharisma in early modern tragedy. Christy Desmet University of Georgia Angela C. Pao. The Orient ofthe Boulevards: Exoticism, Empire, andNineteenth-CenturyFrench Theater. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 1998. Pp. ix + 236. $39.95. Angela Pao's The Orient of the Boulevards is an insightful exploration of the centrality of nineteenth-century French theater in the construction ofthe Orient in France. Pao cogently argues that French theater of that century deserves more attention as a site for the analysis of colonial and imperialist discourse than it routinelyreceives from critics ofFrench literature. Like the novel, it was an integral part ofthe creative fictions implicated in the construction of notions ofrace, ethnicity, and national belonging in France. Focusing on a number of melodramatic plays, the author examines theatrical representations of the Orient and demonstrates how theater participated in the reproduction and formulation of Orientalist discourse. In doing this, she draws upon archival resources ofplayscripts, critical reviews,censorship reports, contemporarytheories of the theater and cultural studies. With its treatment of the cultural, nationalist , and racial issues that subtext the plays, Pao's book begins to do some ofthe work that has so far been largely ignored in studies ofmelodrama. Poa carefully examines the relationship between theater and the French State and notes that it was difficult to uncouple theater and politics. She goes on to point out that the relationship was an ambivalent one. On the one hand, Reviews459 political authorities viewed the theater with a good deal of suspicion: it could be a potentially powerful arm for stirring civil disorder. On the other hand, it was thought that if well harnessed, the theater could be a source of national cohesion, an instrument for solidifying images of national identity. In fact, it was opportunistically employed by those in power for nationalist ends—hence the sustained effort to control the theater by expunging plays of all "subversive " content. The Bureau of Censorship was especially efficient in this regard. Under Napoleon III, state management of theatrical production went beyond the supervision of the content ofthe plays and extended to the spaces of production . Baron Haussman reconfigured Parisian theatrical spaces to ensure the separation of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in an effort to forestall any popular uprising. This reconfiguration of the seating arrangement reinforced class consciousness and the "boulevard theater" became associated with "bourgeois theater." The book is divided into two main parts, which reflect two important moments in the developmental trajectory ofFrench theatrical productions about the Orient. The first part, "Domestic Exoticism," is a reappraisal ofthe significance of melodrama in nineteenth-century French society. Poa challenges the traditional perception of melodrama as a popular form ofentertainment that suited especially the lower classes, arguing that since these plays were anchored in a broad social reality, the issues they raised were ofrelevance to both lower and upper class audiences. Contrary to popular opinion, Pao maintains, many melodramatic plays, instead ofhaving a corrupting influence, advocated upholding societal values. The author systematically shows the ways in which French playwrights consciously or unconsciously contributed to the (re)production ofdiscourses that negatively represented the Orient such that their "historical positioning and cultural conditioning"(53) were quite apparent. Pixerecourt, who is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 458-461
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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