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Reviews85 character of labor movement history. As Robert Gray deftly demonstrates there are considerable difficulties with both usages. The division of labor is a dynamic formation whose enormous complexities make problematic the static hierarchy implicit in the labor aristocracy notion. The criteria that are used to delimit aristocratic status—such as wage rates—can all be shown to be unreliable. SimUarly, to rest the complicated process ofsocial stabilization of nineteenth-century Britain and the development ofpolitical moderation of the labor party on the labor aristocracy alone is too great a burden for it to bear. But as Gray points out, the historiographical treatment of the labor aristocracy has progressed far beyond such simplistic formulations. The debate originally focused on whether a labor aristocracy existed and if so what its political role was in molding the history of labor. But as historians (such as Gray himself) have been drawn into detailed research on these matters they have begun to move beyond the question of definition to such areas of labor processes and technology, the sexual division of labor, the relationship between the state and labor and the role of language and social imagery in creating class consciousness. Whatever the traditional limitations of the labor aristocracy concept, therefore, it has been of key significance in drawing attention to the heterogeneity of the working class and the dynamics of class relations and in shifting research in labor history beyond the boundaries that confine trade union history of the type exemplified by Lovell and Musson. Richard Price University ofMaryland, College Park George Taylor. Players and Performances in the Victorian Theatre. Manchester: Manchester UP; New York: St. Martin's P, 1989. 238. $59.95 US (cloth). In an academic discipline with relatively few adherents, the appearance of a new book is a notable event. I readily join the unanimous (though hardly numerous) ranks in welcoming George Taylor's Players and Performances in the Victorian Theatre, but not without reservations. Taylor attempts to negotiate through difficult terrain by addressing readers who are already somewhat knowledgeable about Victorian theatre whUe providing material that is also adaptable for classroom use. What results 86Victorian Review is a thin textbook with an exorbitant price. Seven performance genres (drama, historical drama, comedy, social comedy, melodrama, popular aestheticism, and Shakespeare) are conveyed through analyses of performers including Macready, the Keans, Liston, the Keeleys, Robson, Toole, Sothern, Fechter, the Bancrofts, Wilson Barrett, Irving, Tree, Rehan, Campbell, Faucit, Ellen Terry, Poel, and Forbes Robertson. As such, there are many succinct yet cogent sections setting off the styles of each performer. The genre studies are paired with seven chapters focusing on particular productions, anchoring arguments about change to pivotal moments of stylistic development or experimentation. The book ' s appropriateness as an example of research to put before graduate students is, despite genuine insights, in my view severely compromised both as a scholarly study and as a textbook. Taylor covers much ground that has already been covered by others (none of the genres or authors languish neglected), occasionally acknowledging his territorial forebears but too often overlooking very recent and very relevant scholarship, and failing to mention editions and studies that are available as complements to his work. The concise bibliographic essay does not rectify the text's oversights. Taylor missed the chance to summarize developments in scholarship while adding his own particular (and not unappealing) angle of inquiry to the slow but internationally vital dialogue on Victorian theatre studies. By addressing elite aspects of theatrical production and focusing on eüte practitioners, Taylor opts for a safe scholarly groove. To its credit, the book is in constant reference to theatre, production, and realization through design, the mise-en-scène, and particularly acting. For the most part, Taylor's arguments hinge on change, which keeps historical questions to the fore, and is peppered with sections on contemporaneous political events, science, and social beliefs. This tactic is most successful in the chapter on the psychology of acting (though the analysis of Trilby which foUows is merely skeletal). The book is strongest when dealing with theatrical legacies—the traditions and interpretation of gesture, classic stage business evident in Box and Cox, handed down through the decades and reconstituted...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 85-88
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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