In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews401 does allow a viable humanitarian solution where others see only paralysis and unresolved paradox. Occasionally, however, he is overly cautious. In his discussion of Emilia Galotti Lamport takes at face value Lessing's famous assertion that he based the play on the ancient Livy story stripped of its political element. Yet anyone who has taught the play to undergraduates knows that even the least sophisticated readers are immediately struck by the obvious and powerful political implications of the play. One can reasonably speculate that because Prussian authorities had tried earlier to prevent the first performance of the comparatively innocuous Minna von Barnhelm in the Free Imperial City of Hamburg (that is, far outside Prussian legal jurisdiction), Lessing could well have feared a much more forceful response from the nobility to the blatantly offensive Emilia Galotti. Hence the dramatist's attempt to play down the political component . But Lamport, perhaps admirably attending to his mission, is disinclined to entertain even well-founded speculation. Lamport makes his well-written, engaging, and insightful study additionally accessible to specialist and non-specialist alike by giving all primary quotations in German and English translation, by providing a carefully assembled bibliography that pays particular attention to recent Anglo-American criticism, and by at times going out of his way to enlighten the neophyte: e.g., in a parenthetical reference to the heroine's name in Kabale und Liebe he explains, "Millerin is an archaic feminine form of the name" (p. 62). Finally, the value of this work lies not least of all in the strange fact that, while there already exist numerous volumes treating individual authors of the period and other studies—for example, T. J. Reed's useful The Classical Centre (1980) —concerned with German classicism in general, Lamport's is presently the only English literary-historical critical survey devoted exclusively to German drama of the classical era. Despite its shameless price, German Classical Drama will necessarily find an indispensable and much deserved place in graduate and undergraduate library collections. STEVEN R. HUFF Oberlin College Peter Egri. The Birth of American Tragedy. Budapest: Tankönyvkiado, 1988. Pp. 227. While it focuses almost exclusively on Eugene O'Neill, the aim of this cumbersome (though in some respects excellent) book by a distinguished Hungarian scholar is "to analyze the genetic and generic conditions of the birth of American tragedy from an axiological point of view" (p. 7). More than once Professor Egri nods dutifully in the direction of his eminent countryman George Lukics as he labors to explain how developments in modern American drama mirror the crises of world capitalism in the decades coinciding with O'Neill's career. Were this study to be written today, after the 1989 upheavals in Eastern Europe, it might carry lighter ideological baggage; for inside this groaning crate is a muscular book struggling to get out. That other narrative 402Comparative Drama is a highly original account of how O'Neill adapted novelistic techniques to suit his dramatic needs. Why, Professor Egri asks at the beginning, did dramatic tragedy develop at a relatively late date in American literature, and then only with O'Neill? He answers that while isolated American novelists did embrace a tragic vision in the nineteenth century (e.g., Melville), it was not until World War I that contradictions in American social values became sufficiently public and intense to provide material for objectified conflict on the stage. We must "connect the birth of American tragedy to the phenomenon of alienation" (p. 36); all other explanations of the rise of American drama fall short. By temperament Eugene O'Neill was ideally suited to dramatize the social alienation felt by large numbers of Americans in the 1920's. Whatever his intentions, he spoke for many in The Hairy Ape, whose protagonist, Yank, protests repeatedly that he does not "belong." In The Hairy Ape dramatic form itself is alienated: "the short units of the dramatic structure cannot join in larger sections" (p. 69). Not only is the fragmentation of the American Dream the reality that gave resonance to O'Neill's tragic vision, it is also the agent that caused the artist to break down his plot into episodic scenes. This...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 401-403
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.