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Book Reviews249 British productions — 1886, 1920-21, 1959, 1985 — and in 1935 a stunning adaptation by Charles Artaud for his Theatre ofCruelty. Observing the trend in the theatre, from Ibsen and Strindberg through Beckett and Pinter, to dramatize the inward-turning mind, Cave concludes that Coleridge, Shelley, and especially Byron anticipate this tradition and would find both sensitive interpretation and receptive audiences in the studio theatres of today. FREDERICK BURWICK University of California, Los Angeles JOHN M. FEIN. Toward Octavio Paz: A Reading ofHis Major Poems, 1957-1976. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1986. 190 p. Octavio Paz has declared, "Poems cannot be explained or interpreted; in them the sign stops signifying: it is." Nevertheless, John M. Fein's reading of his major poems exposes rigorous and thorough stylistic analyses, unfailing in their intention to highlight the multiple latent potentialities for interpretation of works which do not yield definitive connotations. The monograph is an engaging study of six poetry books, Piedra de sol, Salamandra, Blanco, Ladera este, Pasado en claro, and Vuelta. Fein divides his study into eight chapters. The first presents the author's basic strategy: to observe the interrelationship ofthe segments ofthe poem, such as structure and theme, "integral to a close reading ofthe texts" (4-5). Chapter 2 concerns itselfwith one ofthe most famous poems by the Mexican author. Fein discusses at length its complex codes ofsymbols, including the role played by the number 13 in the Aztec calendar. He offers clearly illustrated analyses ofthe first half of Piedra (a voyage into the profundity of the poet's identity "as he strives to define an ultimate reality"), as well as its second half which constitutes one ofthe most brilliant accomplishments ofPaz's poetry, changing its backdrop to the external environment and "making society, rather than the individual psyche, its main subject" (33). The critic exhibits in this chapter his deep knowledge of Aztec mythology. Fein next examines artifices such as columnar typography, anaphora, and the omission ofpunctuation in Salamandra, as well as its concept oftime and meaning, and, of course, the Aztec myth of the axolotl. Blanco and Ladera este are studied in the following two chapters. Here, Fein explores comparative implications by revealing important implicit structural configurations, and concludes: "Piedra de sol forces man to adopt a perspective outside himself to view his most intimate nature. Salamandra presents repeatedly and intensively changing perceptions of the world, with the irresistible implication that they have no meaning except what man confers on them. Blanco provides an elaborate structure which has many variations. Once the reader has become aware of its flexibility and complexity, he has gone beyond communication with the poet to stand on the threshold ofhis own poem" (94). Between 1962 and 1968, Octavio Paz served as ambassador ofthe Mexican government in India; Ladera este [Eastern Slope] epitomizes his curiosity for the East and the Tantric philosophy. The final section of chapter 5 details the function of enlightenment as a paradoxical symbol ofreality, and the fact that the poet returns to the introductory subjects of music and silence of the first part as an attempt to give a circular structure to the text's development. 250Rocky Mountain Review With respect to Pasado en claro and Vuelta, Fein provides an accurate study of their textual structure. Pasado en cZaro, once the relationship between the selfand the world is verified, "turns constantly inward in its quest for values, order, and significance'' (120). Vuelta not only implies Paz's struggle to define himself, love, and the world, but a profound quest for identity, common to all men. Fein's highly interesting conclusion convincingly demonstrates that, in spite of the eclectic diversity, the poetry of Octavio Paz shares the objective of arousing individual reactions to the text. Toward Octavio Paz is a welcome addition to Paz scholarship, valuable to students and critics working in the domain of contemporary Mexican poetry. JUAN MANUEL MARCOS Oklahoma State University GUSTAVO PEREZ FIRMAT. Literature and Liminality: Festive Readings in the Hispanic Tradition. Durham: Duke University Press, 1986. 182 p. Literature andLiminality is proofofa movement in recent criticism from craft to art. The quest for the definitive reading seems to have ended, replaced by a new...


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