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408Comparative Drama more open arena of dramatic theory, it might well be said that one had best leave Aristotle behind—and without apology. States' self-conscious and sometimes cautious stretching of his commentary beyond Aristotelian parameters makes for an interesting theoretic tension, I suppose, but I like the book as it can stand on the merits of his own clear and insightful explorations of a range of the pleasures of plays, without apologies to Aristotle. JAMES E. ROBINSON University ofNotre Dame David Bruce Kramer. The Imperial Dryden: The Poetics ofAppropriation in Seventeenth-Century England. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1994. Pp. xi + 188. $40.00. If we are forced to admit that the mountain, despite mighty efforts to prove the contrary, is in fact only a molehill, may we at least commend it for being a serviceable molehill? I hope so, because David Bruce Kramer's account ofhow Dryden ransacked the French dramatists Molière, Corneille, and Racine—with observations on how his poetic strategies changed along with his career fortunes after the 1688 revolution —is at its base a limited but decent job of work. Though Kramer hopes we will align his approach with the "anxiety ofinfluence" studies ofHarold Bloom, his book actually follows an earlier generation's analysis of Dryden's French predecessors: Ned Bliss Allen's The Sources ofJohn Dryden 's Comedies (1935), or Frank L. Huntley's On Dryden 's Essay ofDramatic Poesy (1951), or Dorothy Burrows' "The Relation of Dryden's Serious Plays and Dramatic Criticism to Contemporary French Literature" (diss., Univ. of Illinois, 1933). Indeed, in a kinder, gentler age of academic publication than ours Kramer might have used Burrows' title for his own, and this reviewer would have approved. Alas, the author and his mentors believe that source scholarship must nowadays be tarted up in the rhetoric of "literary appropriation," "the appetitive traits of literary imperialism," "subversive strategies of misquotation" (four distinct modes of misquotation are painstakingly outlined on pp. 53—56), and Kramer's book is much the worse for the resulting cascades of clever verbiage—for example, in the following lines in Annus Mirabilis describing London after the Great Fire: The poetry itself shows an unusual amount of metrical fragmentation, as if to reflect the constructed quality of the new city; each line is elaborated of two or three short clauses, bits of verbal brick and marble themselves reflecting the beautifully re-created quality of the architectural reconstruction the stanza anticipates. ... (p. 64) Reviews409 The inclusion of Melantha [in Marriage-a-la-Mode] into the highest court circles incarnates sexually Dryden's varied textual inclusions from the French, aptly justified with a term borrowed from the lexicon of international relations—victory. . . . (p. 115) In this poetic/erotic fantasy of textual engendering, Dryden, for the first time, moves away from a strict poetic androgenesis . . . Both wooed and wooing, the poet penetrates the reader and is penetrated by us. . . . (p. 126) Caveat emptor: to get to the cream, one must dig through the puff pastry. And yet Kramer's work is not always so inflated. Those interested in literary reception and appropriation may have encountered an earlier version of Kramer's key chapter "Onely victory in him: The Imperial Dryden" in Earl Miner's and Jennifer Brady's Literary Transmission and Authority: Dryden and Other Writers (1993), and would have noted, for instance, that the brick-and-marble sally on Annus Mirabilis cited above is absent from the Miner-Brady version. It's a real pity, though, that the editors of The Imperial Dryden failed to curb Kramer's tendency to augment his study through mindless repetition of crucial citations. Another stanza from Annus Mirabilis—comparing rebuilt London to "a Maiden Queen"—cited and discussed on page 64, is again cited and discussed as if for the first time on page 84; so are some noteworthy lines from the Essay ofDramatick Poesy, first cited on page 34 and then again on page 96. This sloppiness persists: lines from the Epilogue to An Evening's Love, first cited on page 65, are repeated and discussed again on page 95; lines from page 31 are repeated on page 86; lines on page 85...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 408-411
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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