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Reviews393 Italian operas, but he also transformed our understanding ofthe capabilities of opera. Charles Rosen (The Classical Style, 1971) demonstrates how Mozart was able to create a flexible dramatic action by his exploration ofthe dialectics of sonata form. This newly emerging form allowed Mozart to transcend the closed and inflexible forms of opera seria. Instead of talking about (singing), the singing in Mozart operas "shows forth" the action directly. His operatic legacy sets a new ideal of dramatic action by the transformation ofcommedia dell 'arte archetypes into purposeful human protagonists. The discovery of Shakespeare and Schiller by Italians completes the process. Kimbell treats these innovations cursorily, though in fairness he addresses such issues in his earlier book on Italian romanticism. But the truncated account of nineteenth -century opera presents an unbalanced view of the operatic tradition . More is the pity for those interested in drama, for according to the testimony of Shaw and Ibsen their conception of drama was inspired by nineteenth-century opera. Presumably, the compensation for the weak interpretive stance is the copious descriptive material, much of which is extremely valuable. This reader appreciates Kimbell's generous quotations from several mostly inaccessible eighteenth-century libretti. Kimbell's work will be appreciated as a reference source. It provides copious and diverse data useful for a potential critical history of Italian opera. But even this aspect of his work raises serious questions. For example, what audience is targeted by Kimbell? He provides a lengthy biographical listing which implies a lay audience, but he employs a technical musical language without presenting a glossary of terms—-hence implying an audience of specialists. Despite my criticism, I find Kimbell to be a good music historian, though one who has ventured to treat an incredibly difficult genre—a task which calls for great synthetic powers capable of generating a critical overview of several centuries while simultaneously aspiring to comprehensive completeness. BERNARD ZELECHOW York University Enoch Brater. The Drama in the Text: Beckett's Late Fiction. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Pp. ? + 233. $39.95. Brater's central argument is an important one: Beckett's written words need to be heard; their sound helps determine their sense; their play is indeed drama in the text. But Brater has not stated that argument so baldly as this. Because he is in love with Beckett's words, intoxicated by them, Brater's own language becomes like that of some ancient prophet or medieval mystic, on the mountain, in the Cloud of 394Comparative Drama Unknowing, speaking the ineffable. (Yes, yes, I know Beckett's capers with "ineffable," but I am trying very hard to write this review with dull straightforward sentences, using no parenthetical allusions.) Brater's own sentences are dense with allusion, dense with quotation , dense with metaphor—quite beside themselves in their eagerness to say all. Luckily, he writes good strong prose and usually avoids the various critical jargons currently so popular. Thus his text is not impenetrable , but often it is over-rich. Part ofthat richness comes from repetitions of phrases from Beckett's work: for example, the lines "imagination dead imagine," "Enough my old breasts feel his old hand," "A voice comes to one in the dark" are individually quoted many times in Chapter 3, not simply in passages where they are actually being considered , but elsewhere simply as notes to be sounded again and again as part of Brater's own critical music. Often throughout the book remote quotations are assembled because oftheir similarity oflanguage or idea, as in this discussion of Stirrings Still: . . . these mournful sounds are now quite different from the innocent cries of the corncrakes "dinning their rattles" that Beckett's mental traveler heard long ago in Molloy. Sorrow keeps chiming in, "little sunderings," as Winnie says, "little falls . . . apart." [Then a longer quotation from Happy Days about cries.] This "air," too, as Vladimir intones in the climactic moments of Waitingfor Godot, "is full of our cries." Language works beyond its denotative meanings: the clock in all three cases is about to run out. This is, then, no mean "comedy of substitution." A state of creative consciousness is suddenly revealed. ... (p. 158). These four quotations from Beckett...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 393-396
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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