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Reviews281 contents of his characters. What frustrates Marxian analysts are the contents represented: the subjective, self-lacerating, and contradictory yearnings of Ibsen's middle class rebels. Thus the attack on form seems to be a diversionary tactic in the larger assault on Ibsen's view of social change. Placed last in this volume, Oliver Gerland's contribution on "Enactment in Ibsen" is an original and welcome entry. Gerland proposes that Ibsen so often conceives his protagonists as self-dramatizing actors because "he sees in the performance situation a trope for human being in the world" (p. 228). Ibsen's characters compulsively reenact the past not only to purge themselves of guilt, but also to textualize their personal history so as to re-author it. In other words, for such characters as Solness, Borkman, and Rubek, to escape the past is to narrate, rather than to be narrated by, events. Out of this battle for narrative control, Ibsen's heroes forge their most important dramatic conflicts. Gerland's essay offers a view of Ibsen's dramatic technique that is well grounded in recent semiotic theory. Its persuasiveness attests to the value of applying newer critical approaches to Ibsen, but the absence of contemporary companion pieces in the volume is made all the more conspicuous by its presence. In his Introduction, Lyons discusses some of the newer critical methodologies that might with profit be applied to Ibsen (post-structuralist, feminist, new-historicist, and new mimetic theories , to name several). However, the prospect of a volume that would represent the scope of those approaches is deferred. In Critical Essays on Henrik Ibsen we have a fine compendium of views accompanied by a stimulating Introduction. But—to borrow Gerland's terms—while the Introduction narrates Ibsen criticism in the present, the collection as a whole enacts the past. MICHAEL HINDEN The University of Wisconsin-Madison Wendy Griswold. Renaissance Revivals: City Comedy and Revenge Tragedy in the London Theatre, 1576-1980. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1986. Pp. ix + 288. $24.95. Wendy Griswold's book Renaissance Revivals utilizes sociological methodology to examine why and how works of art are created and recreated. She seeks an understanding of the stage history of each genre by examining "the structure of professional opportunities for its creators, the organizational and market systems through which cultural creators reach their audiences, and the skills, expectations, and situations of those who experience the object." A performance thus becomes an interplay of artists, their arts, audiences, and the social contexts in which these exist. There is no definitive text/ performance, only a timebound series of oscillating elements in Griswold's creative/ interpretive cosmology. So far so good. In fact, there needs no ghost come from the grave to tell us that the theater never is what it was. The variations which occur from performance to performance foreshadow the gamut of interpretation which will emerge over hundreds of years. While the aim of 282Comparative Drama professional craftsmanship in the modern commercial theater is to reproduce an identical audience/art relationship no matter who is in the audience or who is on the stage, the mark is hit only for the spectator who attends once. The actor going through a series of performances senses the oscillation. It's part of what makes acting a vulnerable profession. Griswold's work is, however, directed not at actors, who, after all, have no control over who comes to see them, but rather at critics, dramaturgs, directors, teachers, the range of interpreters accustomed to treating texts as if they were monolithic meaningful structures. To these, Griswold quietly croons: "It ain't necessarily so." Well, "croons" isn't exactly the right word. Griswold's organization and prose style are that of a ruthless logician's formidable outline for a Ph.D. oral at which she intends to confront Prof. Quackenbush, Dr. Doolittle, and Mr. Chips. She is relentless in her thorough scientific scholarship—and for good reason. She is dealing with issues that are vital to know but impossible to prove—what theatrical performances did to the minds and hearts (and possibly the stomachs and groins) of particular audiences. It's a worthy albeit impossible task which Griswold takes...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 281-283
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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