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284Comparative Drama least some specific recognition: John Henry Raleigh's learned "Strindberg and O'Neill as Historical Dramatists," a substantial contribution to the study of the historiographical tendencies of these two dramatists, and Jean Chothia's ingenious reading of verbal and scenic images in The Hairy Ape. Raleigh's comparison constitutes the most substantial, sustained argument in the book and should prove of real interest to all students of historical drama. The volume's few weaknesses mirror those of New Essays on American Drama, although they are somewhat less conspicuous: namely, a number of not so "new" ideas and methodologies, and some truly egregious copy-editing. Both problems really damage the quality of New Essays, and I shall take up the former, more important defect momentarily . I hate to complain about sloppy proofreading—who hasn't been guilty at one time or another of such lapses?—but in several cases the unreasonably large number of spelling and punctuation errors becomes distracting. In Johan Thielemans' "From LeRoi Jones to Baraka and Back," an able and interesting essay in several respects, Ron Karenga's name is spelled three different ways; another essay comparing stage and film versions of Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is authored by either C. Bordewijk or J. M. Bordewijk-Knotter, depending upon where you happen to look in the volume. You get the idea: someone at Rodopi (or is it Roddoppi? Rodapi? Does it really matter anymore if words are spelled correctly?) needs to attend to the important details of proofreading or define more rigorously that horrible phrase and process which have insinuated themselves into academic publishing: "camera ready." My suggestion that there is little "new" in this volume is, of course, not totally fair or accurate. As I noted above, Henry Schvey provides strong insights into Miller's later plays The Archbishop's Ceiling (1977) and The American Clock (1980) and makes a convincing case that The Price (1968) reaches the aesthetic "level of his earlier works" (p. 96). Sy M. Kahn is persuasive in arguing that "to come to terms" with Williams' Out Cry (the 1973 version) is "to confront the very heart of Williams' work as a whole" (p. 41), and Liliane Kerjan provides a useful, much-needed exposition of Albee's most recent work. New Essays on American Drama, therefore, possesses a number of attractions, its most appealing being its strategy of foregrounding the lesser-known, less often discussed plays of the "big four" American dramatists. In this regard, there is something of value "new" about the collection—and about the later selections in Eugene O'Neill and the Emergence of American Drama. STEPHEN WATT Indiana University Ruby Cohn. Retreats from Realism in Recent English Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Pp. 213. $49.95. Ruby Cohn's latest contribution to the study of modern drama, like her many others, is the work of a capacious mind, stimulated by a lifetime of reading and a forty-year "love affair" with the theater. The book Reviews285 moves with ease through nearly four decades of contemporary English drama, exploring a panorama of well-known and little-known plays, nearly all of which Cohn has seen. Though not comprehensive, the book is generous in its sampling, with John Arden, Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, Trevor Griffiths, Stephen Lowe, Charles Wood, and some fortyfive others representing the special spirit and idiom of the post-1956 British stage. Cohn is most interested in plays that challenge "the mimetic representation of contemporary middle-class reality" (p. 1), but she is liberal in defining "retreats from realism," including, for example, Shakespearean offshoots, plays that rewrite history, and plays that rely on surface realism but which may be read allegorically. In addition to discussing non-realistic devices in some one hundred plays, Cohn identifies patterns, establishing six fluid but discrete categories: "Staging England," "Shakespeare Left and Righted," "Diversities of Verse," "Theatre Framing Theatre," "Splitting Images of the Mind," and "Fictional Histories." "Shakespeare Left and Righted" extends the coverage of her earlier book, Modern Shakespeare Offshoots (1976), with Charles Marowitz, Tom Stoppard, Arnold Wesker, Edward Bond, David Hare, David Edgar, and Howard Brenton taking center stage. In "Theatre Framing Theatre" she...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 284-286
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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