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Reviews45 1 a highly unpleasant experience. On the whole, the Post-Modemist Dream owes much to Artaud, Brecht, and Kott. Cruelty and sexuality drive the play. There is a crossover into ballet, via Balanchine. Of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960): "Subtle but unmistakable in the opera is the homoerotic coloring of the character of Oberon and his relationship with Puck . . ." (199). There is not much interest in social class, but a curiosity of 1964 is noted. The Beatles staged a television version ofPyramus and Thisbe. Jonathan Miller's Dream of 1997 came too late for coverage here, a brilliant concetto ofan Upstairs-Downstairs weekend at the great house. In all, this is a deeply satisfying and magisterial account of the great play. Its stage history is an uncanny litmus to the times. On the productions I have seen, Williams strikes me as unfailingly accurate and well-tempered. His viewpoint is cool and detached, perhaps inclining a little to the radical or anti-Establishment aspects. Significantly, he does not care much for Adrian Noble's "suave" RSC Dream, the production that ends the book. People will instinctively tend to take sides on this play. They might like to weigh Russell Jackson's well-phrased hesitation : "We may be right to suppose that Shakespeare himself would prefer Granville-Barker's A Midsummer Night's Dream to Daly's, but he might surprise us in the choice between Madame Vestris's and Peter Brook's" (Shakespeare Survey 35:12). RALPH BERRY Stratford-upon-Avon Charles Segal. Sophocles' Tragic World: Divinity, Nature, Society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995. Pp. xii + 276. $39.95. Charles Segal, Professor of Greek and Latin at Harvard University, is the author of books on Homer, Pindar, Euripides, Lucretius, Ovid, and Seneca which deploy a wide range of contemporary literary critical techniques. His most impressive work, on Sophocles, began with his lengthy New Critical studies on Sophocles. Tragedy and Civilization (1981) interpreted the extant corpus of Sophocles' plays from a Structuralist perspective. His treatment of Trachinian Women developed important insights into a play that had proven difficult for earlier critics. Sophocles' Tragic World reprints nine essays on five plays: Ajax, Trachinian Women, Philoctetes, Antigone, Oedipus the King. Segal is a master of explicating ideas and nuances that a Greek audience would understand immediately—for example, his paragraph on phaneis at Trachinian Women 433 (32). Such detailed attention to words and imagery tempts him to savor the text as text, not as the basis for dramatic action. He sometimes finds significance in ordinary words and phrases repeated after hundreds of lines (see, for example, pages 4, 18, 33, 46, 79, 218). A reader with commentary and lexicon may notice 452Comparative Drama them, but an audience caught up in the action of the play will not. Segal rarely discusses staging. On the entrance ofIoIe in Trachinian Women he writes, "As the silent captive led in a victory train, she visually recalls Cassandra brought before the regal palace in Aeschylus' Agamemnon" (77). Iole enters on foot widi a group of forlorn captives, and her sadness and beauty immediately attract Dianeira's attention. Cassandra enters on a chariot next to King Agamemnon and receives only passing attention until after his exit. To the reader, the scenes are parallel; visually they are quite different. On the Ajax he writes, "In the remarkable scene, unique in Sophocles, in which Athena shows the maddened Ajax to his enemy Odysseus, me spectators, like gods, look down on Athena, who in tum looks down on her mortal victim" (6). First, Athena may be standing above the actors on the backdrop roof or the "machine." Spectators with the best seats, such as the Priest ofDionysus and the archons, would then be below her. A playwright would not seek an effect reserved for those in the worst seats. Second, that Athena is on the ground with Odysseus and Ajax is argued by A. W. Pickard-Cambridge, The Theater of Dionysus in Athen (1946); Oliver Taplin, The Stagecraft ofAeschylus (1977); Malcolm Heath, The Poetics of Greek Tragedy (1987). Third, the scene is not unique in Sophocles. In Ajax the Locrian 1 Oa, Athena is on stage denouncing the title...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 451-454
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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