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BOOK REVIEWS always wears a thick veil), has pursued her all over Europe. In counterpoint to their game of hide-and-seek is the drama of a young girl who, thirsting for fulfillment of her first love but prevented by her over-protective mother, ultimately drowns herself, as all the forewarned adults ignore the symptoms of soul-sadness. The desperate young man is disillusioned when he gets a good look at the aging Countess (anticipating Blanche and Mitch by forty years), and the Countess herself collapses in despair at her implacable fate. This is as compelling a bitter-sweetsymphonic meditation on love as any ever written. The Magnanimous Cuckold, too, holds up well, although it may very well be that without the inspired support of a Meyerhold's radical interpretation, or that of some other director of genius, the play again might come across as worked-over Marivaux. The translations are respectable literary representations of the (not easy) original French. One of the major mysteries enveloping Crommelynck's name is why he stopped writing after '935; when one considers that he was extremely successful and often performed, and also that he lived as late as 1970, this appears all the more curious. Piette and Cardullo venture several theories to explain his latter-day silence, among them that the multitalented Crommelynck turned to film-making and stage directing. The explanation that rings most true, however , is that he had simply run out of plays to write, a justification he himself doesn't heSitate to give. However, his three most successful plays, The Chi/dish Lovers, The Magnanimous Cuckold, and Golden Guts, are justification enough for Crommelynck's fame and for the serious attention these two volumes represent. A play like The Sculptor ofMask - which, in effect, is an animation of a James Ensor canvass and piquant example of post-Symbolism - is also well worth knowing for its historical value. The thinness of some of the other works give the impression. however. that he was running out of creative steam and had written himself out by 1935. Still, Crommelynck, along with so many other playwrights of his period, idiosyncratically epitomizes the struggle against the naturalistic strait-jacket so prevalent in the twenties and thirties. The fruits of Crommelynck's own struggle to find a theatrically vibrant style makes him a writer worth knowing and staging. Piette and Cardullo deserve a vote of thanks for making The Childish Lovers better known and for contributing a serious, detailed response to this major writer's life and work. DAVID WILLINGER, CITY COLLEGE AND THE GRADUATE CENTER, C ITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK SHEILA RABILLARD, ed. Essays on Caryl Churchill: Contemporary Representations . Winnipeg: Blizzard Publishing, 1998. Pp. 224ยท $24.95. Caryl Churchill's career continues to flourish, her work continues to change, Book Reviews 139 and her plays continue to fascinate. Of how many of her contemporaries can that be said? It is only fitting, then, that the discussion of her dramaturgy should continue. As it turns out, there is still something new to say about Cloud Nine and Top Girls, and we have barely begun to look at more recent work such as The Skriker or Lives of the Great Poisoners. Essays on Caryl Churchill is, on the whole, a very useful addition to the discussion. Sheila Rabillard has done a fine job of ordering these thirteen essays. They generally move through Churchill's oeuvre chronologically, giving a sense of evolution and leading to a better understanding of recent, somewhat cryptic, plays. Moreover, this is a balanced collection, one essay often complementing another. Robert Baker-White:s nice piece on the role of landscape, geography, and ecology in Churchill's plays makes an excellent lead-in to Amelia Howe Kritzer's essay on poisoning, environmental and otherwise, and to Geraldine Cousin's reading of The Skriker as "a cautionary tale" about our careless use of our environment. Susan Bennett and Lizbeth Goodman build their contributions around their personal involvement with productions, while Meenakshi Ponnuswami, Ann Wilson, and Alice Rayner take highly theoretical approaches. For those interested in staging theatre, perhaps the collection's most edifying essay is Goodman's, on Top Girls. Focusing on three...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 138-140
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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