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306Comparative Drama mine the value of the rest of the book. The real strength of Gibson's work lies in its sensitive evocation, through historical example and period image, of the devotional spirit that infuses East Anglian plays like the Marian sequence in the N-town "cycle." If, in our secular age, we would seek to understand the audience of these plays better, we should welcome Gail Gibson's Theater of Devotion as a perceptive guide. SALLY-BETH MACLEAN Records of Early English Drama Lawrence Graver. Waiting for Godot, Landmarks of World Literature Ser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Pp. 114. $19.95. Thomas Cousineau. Waiting for Godot: Form in Movement, Twayne's Masterwork Studies. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990. Pp. 136. $18.95 (cloth); $7.95 (paper). Though efforts to democratize the canon are not encouraged by "landmarks" and "masterwork" designations, enough residual respect for classical texts remains to produce a consensus that neither Cambridge University Press' "Landmarks of World Literature" series nor "Twayne's Masterwork Studies" would be complete without volumes on Waiting for Godot. Both series offer handy access to Beckett's play: Cambridge's intends a close reading, an account of the play's historical, cultural, and intellectual background, a discussion of its influences, and a guide to further reading; Twayne's intends a "lively critical reading," discussions of the work's influence, historical context, and critical reception, and a bibliography. Lawrence Graver's seems the more useful for the student or general reader; Thomas Cousineau's, though quirky, would appeal to those already familiar with the play. Graver has already published a book in the field. Samuel Beckett: The Critical Heritage, co-edited with Raymond Federman in 1979, collects reviews of early productions of Godot, many of which are revived in "Genesis and Reception," Chapter 1 of the present study. For a substantial portion of the book (54 of the 114 pages), Graver walks the novice through the literary landscape of the play, attending to each of the characters and to the unseen Godot as well as to the philosophical, linguistic, and dramatic patterns of the play. He offers a sturdy and informative reading, disappointing only in its virtual neglect of the play as performance script. His comparison of the French and English editions (Chapter 3) should prove suggestive to the first-time reader, though not all scholars would agree that Beckett's shadings, rendered to make Godot more "stageworthy," did little to alter the play. The concluding chapter rehearses the performance history of Godot, then moves to comparisons with plays by other contemporary writers, most notably Pinter, Stoppard, Fugard, and Mamet. Seasoned Beckett scholars will pass on this volume, but students will be grateful for it Cousineau's Waiting for Godot: Form in Movement is an uneven work, a combination of underdeveloped chapters and pedestrian readings , on the one hand, and exciting, sustained insights, on the other. Reviews307 Three chapters that precede the reading that occupies most of the volume's 136 pages are little more than gestures at documenting "Historical Context," "The Importance of the Work," and "Critical Reception ." Joyce, Proust, the surrealists, and Artaud get glances in the first of these, but literary history—such as it is—replaces any reconstruction of time and place implied by the chapter title. Similarly, the account of the play's critical reception becomes a survey of literary approaches to the play; though one would expect audiences to take center stage here, the public's early inhospitality is eclipsed by one premature reference to Beckett's being "more distressed than pleased by the popular success of his play" (p. 11). And Cousineau's assessment of Godofs importance offers brief acknowledgment of its place in the history of modern theater, then slips into a critical reading of the play as a "questioning of the legitimacy of patriarchal society" (p. 8). However provocative the reading, it hardly identifies the contribution Godot has made to the history of thought and of theater. Following this inauspicious beginning, Cousineau moves to the main portion of the study, which, the series promises, will be a "lively critical reading." Here I found the author's critical divisions odd—"Christianity," "Truth," "Language," "Causality," "Memory and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 306-308
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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