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202Comparative Drama formance: can we reasonably expect the dense and allusive patterns found by literary critics to carry their burden of meaning in a text written for the stage? How many subtleties revealed by scrutiny of the printed page can register on an audience intent on the spectacle of performance? Smethurst shows not only that the word play and allusion found in Zeami are analogous to some important features claimed for Aeschylean style but also that Zeami himself describes their role in his expository works. The Japanese analogy demonstrates that a dramatist can indeed build elaborate linguistic patterns deliberately and expect an audience to appreciate their significance. This application of the Japanese example to the Greek question should become standard reading. It is a major contribution in both substance and method to an important contemporary debate. Second, the illumination of a dramatic tradition by recourse to a second tradition restores dramatic values to the study of drama. The problem here has been that Hellenists are not by nature comparatists, and very few are drama critics. They do not easily look to the stage, any stage, for answers to their questions. Smethurst shows why they should. If you believe (as I do) that Aeschylus' art is basically the art of a theater and that theatrical values should be central to the criticism of Greek tragedy, then the wider our knowledge of theatrical traditions in general, the better our criticism of any tradition in particular . We certainly need social historians to relate the Athenian stage to the society that produced it and philologists to establish as best they can what Aeschylus actually wrote, but we also need some critics to treat Aeschylus as a dramatist and tragedy as drama. This book offers a new source of encouragement for that enterprise. I do wish it were a little less fussy in its argumentation and a little broader in its perspective, but its heart is in the right place. Make no mistake: Smethurst is tilting at real giants here, even if her description sometimes mistakes them for windmills. SANDER M. GOLDBERG University of California, Los Angeles June Schlueter, ed. Feminist Rereadings of Modern American Drama. Rutherford, N. J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1989. Pp. 249. $35.00. Twenty years ago, in the early years of feminist critical projects, most of us who began studying and writing in the field were working without formal instruction, critical and historical texts to guide our pursuits, or any assortment of specifically feminist critical strategies with which to approach the text. By now, the terrain is vast: there are graduate seminars in the field, NEH summer institutes, and a wealth of articles and books. What was once a general field of critical endeavor is now so broad and so complex that many of us have carefully cut out specific areas of our own expertise. In spite of the heterogeneity of approaches and projects, a now-realized desire, there are still general trends that reflect primarily the concerns of the social movement. Fortunately, much feminist critical work has remained responsive to the social concerns. For this reason, Reviews203 one does have some sense of how critical projects fit into the social field. Within these parameters, the project of the Schlueter anthology seems as if it belongs more appropriately to the decade of the 1970's. It was then that the concerns of gender and the canon dominated the field—particularly the rereading of male texts in the canon. Schlueter's own sources in her introduction hark back to articles written in 1980— articles that reflected more the projects and strategies of the 1970's than those moving forward into the 1980's. Perhaps the best example of this is her citation of Annette Kolodny's work on the canon—an article which was important in its time but which has since been superseded by far more sophisticated models. Likewise, Schlueter's gesture to works by Millett and Ellman as earlier versions of her project confound the contemporary critic. It is difficult to imagine how or why those pioneering projects of the late 1960's could be somehow updated. Yet for me the greatest shock came in reading that Schlueter's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 202-204
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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