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

1 COMPARATIVE ? ama Volume 31Summer 1997Number 2 Nonworded Words and Unmentionable Pharmaka in O'Neill and Valle-Inclán Wifredo de Ràfols Since by critical consensus Eugene O'Neill is our leading dramatist and Long Day's Journey into Night his masterpiece, it is odd that Harold Bloom, when contemplating the play's nonverbal art, should be tempted to dismiss it summarily by reflecting that "insofar as O'Neill's art is nonverbal it must also be nonexistent."' Although Bloom then moves to amend this reflection by admitting that gestures "supplement language" and by noting O'Neill's "extraordinarily effective stage directions," strictly it is correct—since without the playwright's words there would be no play. What is overlooked by this uncompromising stance is not so much the nonverbal aspects of any stage performance as the characters' avoidance of words—by allusion, ellipsis, metalanguage, periphrastic gambits, and anacoluthon— which during their absence are as nonverbal as they are nonworded . To be sure, I have only replaced Bloom's tautology with an oxymoron ("nonworded words") but a useful one because it plays up the contrast between words of a text and words sum193 194Comparative Drama moned by a text, between words uttered by actors and words that can only be imagined by audiences. When such nonworded words point to an emerging Leitmotif, to a primum mobile behind the plot, and to an essential trait of a leading character, the means of evoking them merit our scrutiny. I plan to suggest that the art of word-avoidance is practiced as masterfully in Long Day's Journey, which turns upon the avoidance and eventual disclosure of a single word, as in Esperpento de Las galas del difunto (The Dead Man's Duds), which turns upon the avoidance and eventual disclosure of words contained in a letter. Ramón del Valle-Inclán, one of Spain's most original playwrights of this century, penned Las galas in 1926, a little more than a decade before O'Neill wrote his masterpiece. The two plays are not especially comparable except inasmuch as both defer the unveiling of pivotal words until the final scenes and both harbor the theme of writing. Yet, perhaps for those very reasons, both texts are susceptible of remarkably productive readings when they are informed by a third text, Jacques Derrida's "Plato's Pharmacy."2 Since here Derrida addresses another set of texts, Plato's dialogues (especially the Phaedrus), this essay perforce will provide a point of intersection for at least four discourses . Rather than appealing to the manner in which any one of these discourses reciprocally colors and is colored by the others, what follows instead is the tracking of two quarries in Long Day's Journey and Las galas: the deferral of key words and the theme of writing. Recalling a few portions of Derrida's text and Plato's dialogues will flesh out this theme, curiously, in a way which both O'Neill and Valle-Inclán seem to have anticipated in these two dramas. Derrida's thoughts on writing and indeterminacy are scattered throughout his work. However, "Plato's Pharmacy" not only takes up these subjects directly but does so in a manner that has a startling relevance to the manner in which Long Day' s Journey and Las galas each house the theme of writing. At the risk of oversimplification , in "Plato's Pharmacy" Derrida undermines standard interpretations of Plato's Phaedrus principally by exposing the polysemy of what he considers to be one of its crucial words, Pharmakon, and by arguing that an adherence to any one of the translations pharmakon may occasion ("remedy," "recipe," "poison," "medicine," "perfume," "pictorial color," "philter," "charm") tends to erase that polysemy—thereby prompting dubious interpretations of Plato's text.3 The problem of translation is no trivial matter, since in the Phaedrus Socrates discusses the Wifredo de Ràfols195 function and value of writing and likens its effects to those of a pharmakon. What is at stake, accordingly, is "nothing less than the problem of the very passage into philosophy."4 As I have noted elsewhere,5 besides marking the undecidability that must preside over the polysemous word...