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Reviews277 in the recurrent observations about Shakespeare's feminism and the Elizabethan ideal of marriage, in spite of Professor Bryant's initial disclaimer. By choosing to organize by plays, Professor Bryant is restricted to concentrate in each chapter on the individual play rather than on the full development of his ideas about the uses of comedy. He comments, for example, that "The ideal of marriage that does emerge from these plays is best thought of as a process rather than as a status to be achieved with any finality . . ." (p. 208); but, since the two plays that are the subject of the chapter determine the chapter's organization, he can only cite earlier plays without developing the idea as it perhaps might have been fully examined for a scholarly audience. The organization also tends to make plot summary more important than it should be for an audience already familiar with the plays. The central section of each chapter is devoted largely to general statements about plots and characters. The conclusions of the chapters, then, become sometimes rather vague opinions about Shakespeare's meaning. For example, The Merry Wives of Windsor "makes us once more sense the mysterious terms by which frail humanity continues to survive, and it encourages us to accept those terms—even though we do not fully understand them—and to concede that the game shall go on" (p. 124). In short, Professor Bryant has produced a work that lacks the development of a precise thesis that would be interesting for scholars, but which also is too detailed to serve as an introduction for students who frequently find that Anne Barton's Riverside introductions give them more than they want. A glance at the footnotes indicates that with only several exceptions the works cited were published before 1975. C. L. Barber and H. B. Charlton are still excellent introductions for interested undergraduates, but more recent investigations into the uses of comedy might have sharpened the focus of this book. WILLIAM M. JONES University of Missouri—Columbia James Gibbons Huneker. Americans in the Arts, 1890-1920, ed. Arnold T. Schwab. New York: AMS Press, 1985. Pp. lxix + 673. $57.50. At the turn of this century, American artists—playwrights especially— received relatively little critical attention. European culture prevailed, casting its shadow across home-grown talent. But luckily there existed a few exceptions. In his time James Gibbons Huneker (1856-1921), whose commentaries are reprinted in Americans in the Arts, 1890-1920, was one of America's most versatile and influential critics. Huneker wrote many books, but because he left behind no school of aesthetic thought or hotly debated theory, he is now largely forgotten. In his 1963 biography of Huneker, Arnold Schwab laments this state of affairs and insists that "No critic has done so much in so many arts to catch the interest and refine the taste of his countrymen." In the Introduction to Americans in the Arts Schwab advances a similar thesis: Huneker, he says, has never been properly 278Comparative Drama credited for his influence on the arts in America because he rarely reprinted his essays on Americans in his book-length collections. To set matters right, Schwab now reprints several hundred of Huneker's uncollected reviews and commentaries on more than two hundred and fifty American composers, performers, playwrights, actors, novelists, poets, painters, engravers, sculptors, photographers, and critics. Given the fact that many of these commentaries are short and clearly ephemeral, it seems overkill to reprint masses of them just to prove Huneker's "Americanism." Fortunately, a different and better rationale for this book emerges. Because Huneker was such a versatile critic, his commentaries collectively present a substantial picture of American high culture at the turn of the century and beyond. Schwab greatly enhances his effect by clever organization and scholarly editing. He divides Huneker's commentaries into four large subjects—music, drama, literature, and art—which he then subdivides chiefly into categories of artists or critics. Drama, for example, is subdivided into playwrights, performers, critics, and a miscellaneous category entitled "Topics." The other major subjects have analogous divisions. Individuals are listed alphabetically in each subdivision, and beneath each name are printed Huneker's reviews or...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 277-279
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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