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Reviews279 he searched the arts for what was genuinely "American." His comments reveal, furthermore, a good deal about the culture of turn-of-the-century New York as he describes opera houses, dinner theatres, art galleries, and discusses such contemporary topics as staging techniques and ticket pricing. The alphabetized format in each subdivision mixes the historical "greats" in the ranks with numerous minor and forgotten figures—and thus puts them all on a strangely egalitarian footing. We have the impression , as we read, of making history's judgments over again, freed of our current rankings. In general, Huneker's comments on the major figures offer us little that hasn't been said elsewhere more authoritatively. Far more valuable are his comments on minor and forgotten figures. The entire section on playwrights—generally figures from the generation preceding Eugene O'Neill—is interesting precisely because history has relegated almost all of them to obscurity. With qualified praise or outright condemnation, Huneker often anticipates this judgment: he praises Belasco extravagantly as a stage manager but more cautiously as a playwright; he consistently and sometimes cruelly ridicules the work of Clyde Fitch; he gives a detailed treatment of Moody's Across the Great Divide which stands up even today as a valuable analysis of both the play's importance and its limitations. But his review of a William Gillette melodrama opens with this stunning judgment: "Secret Service is a great play. It is not a great American play or the great American play, but simply a remarkable contribution to the stage of any land" (p. 219). What, we must ask, does Huneker see in Secret Service that history has failed to see? Likewise, among poets Huneker admires Olive Tilford Dargan; among novelists he favors Henry B. Fuller. And in the other categories ranging from composers to painters, Huneker repeatedly raises the ghosts of minor or forgotten figures and forces us to question the cannon—not because of minority or gender representation, but because of a given artist's power and appeal. Huneker's comments together with Schwab's headnotes make us understand how artificial and impoverished our knowledge of any age is when it comes to us encapsuled in a short list of canonized works. Americans in the Arts is for anyone who cares to examine the subtler textures of the turn-of-the-century era. PHILIP J. EGAN Western Michigan University Charles R. Lyons, ed. Critical Essays on Henrik Ibsen. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987. Pp. 247. $35.00. Ibsen scholars will be familiar with the venerable opinions of such stalwarts as George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, William Archer, Brian Downs, Georg Lukács, John Northam, and P. D. F. Tennant, whose work is excerpted here. The tyro, on the other hand, has available a greater range of Ibsen criticism in Henrik Ibsen: A Critical Anthology, edited by James McFarlane, published in paperback by Penguin in 1970. Several essay collections on Ibsen are in print. How timely, then, are the selections represented here? Lyons' volume does contain one previously 280Comparative Drama unpublished piece, "Enactment in Ibsen" by Oliver Gerland, and one previously untranslated essay on Ibsen by Peter Szondi. But only two items postdate 1980, while the majority appeared before 1950. Two are essays reprinted from earlier collections, and some of the older pieces have seen print several times. However, these selections are justified contextually by the editor's valuable introduction, which focuses each essay to catch the glint of an important critical debate. The articles are grouped under a half-dozen headings: "Ibsen and the Ibsenites," "Ibsen the Poet of the Theater," "Ibsen and Ideology," "Ibsen and the Structure of the Mind," "Ibsen and Romanticism," and "Ibsen's Dramatic Form." A motif running throughout the collection is the issue of Ibsen's realism and its appraisal by defenders of both mimetic and anti-mimetic theatrical strategies. In this context, the orchestration of essays uncovers a series of arguments whose partisans, under the strict sway of Professor Lyons' baton, keep to their scores with unwavering discipline. When We Dead Awaken is the touchstone of the collection and is mentioned in passing or in detail by most of the commentators represented . Archer condemned...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 279-281
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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