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Reviews403 (1759). Later there will be an excursus on Chekhovian parallels in A Touch of the Poet and a discussion of sundry works that possibly anticipate various aspects of O'Neill's unfinished The Calms of Capricorn. What cannot be worked into the chapters spills over into forty-five pages of footnotes, and the text (its print is small, its pages long) is swollen further by extensive plot summaries. A conflagration of note cards at some early stage in the writing might have been providential. However, the virtues of The Birth of American Tragedy outweigh its structural flaws and transcend its mechanistic quest to locate causes for literary events. Readers who persevere to the last chapter will be rewarded with an illuminating discussion of Long Day's Journey into Night, which the author sees as O'Neill's final attempt to counter alienation by asserting ethical and aesthetic values. At the same time, Egri treats the play as O'Neill's most successful fusion of tragic, epic, and lyric elements. The tragic is voiced in Long Day's Journey into Night in the conflict between deterministic and non-deterministic explanations of the characters' behavior; epic elements are introduced through "a succession of dramatic scenes with short-story oriented insights and turning points" (p. 156); and lyric qualities are evoked in the monologues of the fourth act, where the Tyrones express their separate yearnings for a life of joy and creativity. The showpiece of this chapter is a splendid analysis of Edmund's long poetic monologue recounting his mystical experiences at sea. Here the author demonstrates a patience for intricate linguistic notation that has no parallel in American commentary . This valuable discussion lends authority to Professor Egri's conclusion that alienation is confronted and rejected in O'Neill's autobiographical masterpiece. Students of O'Neill will be impressed with the book's thorough scholarship and intellectual sweep. The Birth of American Tragedy is a formidable resource whose gifts may be extracted by judicious skimming. MICHAEL HINDEN University of Wisconsin-Madison Johannes Fabian. Power and Performance: Ethnographic Explorations through Proverbial Wisdom and Theater in Shaba, Zaire. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990. Pp. xix + 316. $49.50 (cloth); $19.95 (paper). In 1985 the anthropologist Johannes Fabian, working in the Shaba province of Zaire, first encountered the saying "Le pouvoir se mange entier" ("Power is eaten whole"). Its implications—for the several charismatic religious movements Fabian was examining and for the cultures of the Luba peoples—continued to intrigue him, and on a visit the following year he mentioned the saying to a company of popular actors: "I was overwhelmed by their eagerness to explain 'le pouvoir se mange entier' to me and to themselves. Spontaneously they decided that it would be just the right topic for their next play. On the spot they began planning— first suggestions for a plot were made, problems of translating the French 404Comparative Drama term pouvoir were debated, several actors cited sayings and customs from their home country—in short, I had triggered an ethnographic brainstorm" (p. 3). Power and Performance should be read by everyone interested in drama, for Fabian not only illustrates how the performance of Le pouvoir se mange entier was created, rehearsed, and performed by the Troup Théâtrale Mufwankolo (the play examines various issues of power through a series of conflicts between villagers and their chief), but also reminds us that much of what ethnographers study as "culture" is performance . Power and Performance contains both rehearsal and performance versions of the text of Le pouvoir se mange entier—in Swahili and in English translation—and an excellent bibliography. JOHN H. STROUPE Western Michigan University ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 403-404
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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