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Book Reviews the courage jf nol the content of such confessions in our era, especially considering how they are diminished by the racial and feminist torment of the plays. Although Kennedy's time in Africa led to political enthusiasms, for Patrice Lamumba particularly, the major responses seem to have been aesthetic. A mask she bought from a street vendor in Accra, an image of "s woman with a bird flying through her forehead" allowed Kennedy to "totally break from realistic-Jooking characters... Her discoveries are the discoveries of modernism; she learned from Picasso (" After ] saw Guemica ... , the concept of placing my characters in a dream domain seemed more and more real to me"), and from Lorea ("After I read and saw Blood Wedding. I changed my ideas about what a play was. Ibsen, Chekhov, O'Neill and even Williams fell away"), and from Jackson Pollock ("After seeing his work ... , I thought continually of how to write [was it possible?] without a linear narrative"). And through all the sections of this book, as through all her plays, runs a deep stream of religion. Jesus seems to exist as a dramatic character in her life, and the Bible, especially the psalms, creates the "emotional tone" of her dramatic language. Readers interested in material for biographical criticism or psychoana1ytic criticism of the plays will be rewarded by reading People Who Led to My Plays. But for others who are not so inclined, the book transcends any practical value of application by demonstrating that there is simply no explaining the very thing the book would demonstrate, that is, how an author comes to write the way shelhe does. After all, many of us read Jane Eyre when we were young, but most of us did not write Kennedy's plays. TOBY SILVERMAN ZINMAN, UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS, PHILADELPHIA GABRIEL MlLLER. Clifford Ode/so New York: Ungar 1989. pp. xii, 260. $18.95. During the decad~ following Clifford Odet's death in 1963, several book-length assessments of the playwright's work were produced. However, there has been no solid critical reassessment of Odets since that posttportem flurry. Gabriel Miller's Clifford Odels fins that gap admirably. Unfortunately, though it is a valuable addition to Ungar/Continuum's "Literature and Life" series, it is also a testament to the difficulties inherent in trying [0 devise a format that a1lows for evaluation of literary achievement as well as for personal biography, which the series demands. Devise a formal for literary evaluation, and the categories established often break with chronology, making biography difficult; focus on biography, and the attendant chronological order interferes with efforts to evaluate more than one work at a time. In the case of Clifford Odets, Miller has chosen to emphasize literary eva1uation, a decision that I personal1y welcome even though Miller's decision has not produced a happy solution to the above-stated dilemma. Miller has Chapter One summarize Odets's early life and Chapter Two discuss Odets's two unproduced early plays, "910 Book Reviews Eden Street" and "Victory." But beginning with Chapter Three - with material covering Odets's 1935 successes - Miller only loosely follows a chronological order, choosing rather to order material according to the varied "visions" of life that Miller sees Octets presenting in his art. So, for example, Chapter Three, entitled "The Chekhovian Vision," groups two of Odets's four 1935 products, Awake and Sing! and Paradise Lost, leaving Waiting for Lefty and Till the Day / Die for Chapter Seven, "The Political Vision." Another of Miller's decisions results in Chapter Four, "The Tragic Vision," grouping Goldell Boy (1937) with a much later work, The Big Knife (1949). What is impressive, about this strategy is that Miller has obviously devised it to demonstrate the multifaceted versatility of Odets's art, to prove that Odets is more than merely a political activist as many have stereotyped him to be after reading /seeing Waiting for Lefty. In Chapter Seven, Miller does discuss Odets's "Political Vision, " but he quickly points out that the vision was an immature and naive one that soon disillusioned Odets, who was more interested in developing a personalized concept of "community" rather than argue for some doctrine...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 583-585
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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