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Book Reviews way in the direction of the true Brecht. The two men met in Paris on the occasion ofthe Berliner Ensemble's visiting production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Planchon's two initial stagings ofthe play had been too close to the prevailing aesthetics ofLe Cartel des Quatre (Gaston Baty, Charles Dullin, Louis Jouvet and Georges Pitoef/). Of the four, Jouvet was closest to Brecht's theory of distanciation. Although his goals were purely aesthetic, as Dr. KJeber points out, he propounded, in the wake of Diderm's seminal"Le paradoxe sur Ie comedien," that the actor must establish a distance between his personal self and the role he seeks to interpret. Brecht's "histrionic dialectic" (Kleber. p. 25) was not far removed from the influential teaching of France's most intellectual director. In fact, the French intelligentsia, in the wake of the Algerian war of independence, awakened to the importance ofemphasizing the social causal network as a force shaping patterns of behavior and thought. This manifested itself in the very structure of plays in which scenes, linked by the economic and social laws of society, formed chains of events even as they appeared disconnected and unrelated. In his second production of La Bonne ame, Planchon tried to show "Ia misere toute simple" (KJeber, p. 144). He designed the set himselfbut kept the "pathetic" acting style cherished by an audience used to the Cartel. However, after his five~hour meeting with Brecht, Planchon moved away from psychological interpretation to delve into events and actions. KJeber writes: "... the 1958 prod~ctjon of La Bonne arne demonstrates Planchon's development from a non~political director, with strong ties to the dominant French theatre, to a socially aware man of the theatre" (p. 236). This ultimate mise en scene "emphasized the contradictory social conditions produced by Capitalism, de-emphasized the mere portrayal of misery without revealing the cause, and created a production which was both entertaining and raising of social awareness in the spectators" (p. 236). Both John Fuegi and Pia Kleber finnly state that Brecht believed in conveying his message in an entertaining fonn. Kleber quotes the Gennan dramatist as saying: "Whoever does not teach in an entertaining way and entertain in an instructive way should not be on stage" (p. 83). John Fuegi reports that Brecht advised: "If the critics would view my theatre as spectators do, without first emphasizing my theories, then what they would see would be simply theatre, I hope, of imagination, fun or intelligence" (p. 89). This is sound counsel, and it is the message we retain from these two fine studies. Both scholars manage to instruct us in an entertaining manner. ROSETIE C. LAMONT, QUEENS COLLEGE AND THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF CUNY. H.A. MASON. The Tragic Plane. Oxford: The Clarendon Press 1985. Pp. viii, 197. $35.75 Cdn. Ours is an especially interesting age in which to think about the idea of tragedy. Ours is one of the few spots in historical time in which tragedy has flourished - along with Homeric Ionia, Periclean Athens and Elizabethan England. From Moby-Dick, from Book Reviews some of Hardy. Faulkner, and a few others; from Wagner, Strindberg. O'Neill, Bergman, and Kurosawa, many readers and audiences have felt that subjective, ineffable certainty of being in the presence of the tragic. That is one of the problems that tragedy poses. All tragedies are different from one another; but aJi have something in common that leads people to agree or argue that such and such a work creates in areader or audience the effect of the tragic. Such is the problem that H.A. Mason tackles in this fine, eccentric, and important book, The Tragic Plane. Mason calls his approach to the problem of defining the tragic "subjective," by which word he claims the liberty to let certain of his opinions and impressions stand unexplained and undefended; he also means that he wants to find a way to describe the experience of knowing that one witnesses authentic tragedy, and also that one knows oneself to be in the presence of the ultimate literary or dramatic achievement. On the whole, questions of fonn are excluded from this study. Mason, Emeritus...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 462-465
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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