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128 LETTERS IN CANADA 1980 165; 'It may seem perverse to begin my discussion ...: p 156). Patricia Clements is as sensitive as Gatrell to the ambiguity and manifold perspectives of Hardy's meanings, but she offers a more convincing and illuminating theoretical pattern to account for the precariously balanced points of view in the verse. Many of Hardy's poems, she suggests, detail a moment in which a quester's perception or expectation of order crumbles in the face of overpowering contradictory experience and must be subsequently reformulated. Within this context Clements places Hardy's poems of repetitive return and his pivoting, antithetical verse structures. Despite the diversity of topics, then, these essays reflect a substantial coherence that does credit to the editors' stated purpose of contributing significantly to the 'renewed conversation about Hardy's poems' (p vii). Dedicated to the memory of its late co-editor, Juliet Grindle, the volume is a worthy commemoration of her own notable contributions to Hardy studies. (ILA GOODY) j.L. Wisenthal, editor. Shaw and Ibsen: Bernard Shaw's Quintessence of Ibsenism and Related Writings University of Toronto Press 1979. ix, 268. $20.00 Readers of Shaw's essay on Ibsenism have frequently fallen into one of two errors. One is to suppose Shaw to bearguing that Ibsen was a socialist and his plays sociological tracts. Ibsen himself dealt with the question of his views in a letter correcting a journalist's account of an interview: What I really said was that I was surprised that I, who had made it my chief business in life to depict human character and destinies, should, without consciously aiming at it, have arrived at some of the same conclusions as the social-democratic moral philosophers had arrived at by scientific processes. Shaw was defining the quintessence of Ibsenism only within limits suitable to a Fabian Society lecture. He was not, moreover, defining the quintessence of Shavianism. The second error is to make that assumption and apply it after this fashion: in pursuit of a thesis Shaw argues that people fall into three readily defined groups and he classifies Ibsen's characters accordingly; ergo, he must have created his own characters with that thesis and classification in mind, and they should be studied simply in the light of it. Shaw commented on that approach in 1919, in less restrained language than Ibsen's: Would anyone but a buffleheaded idiot of a university professor, half crazy with correcting examination papers, infer that all my plays were written as economic essays, and not as plays of life, character, and human destiny like those of Shakespeare or Euripides? HUMANITIES 129 Professor Wisenthal's book, a timely reissue of what Shaw called a 'major critical essay: will surely put an end to both errors. Shaw's words of explicit caution at the end of his 1891 preface to The Quintessence of Ibsenism did not avert them, perhaps because, while calling his piece an 'exposition: he did not sufficiently emphasize that he was not so much an 'expositor' as a debater and propagandist, setting up a thesis, selecting the evidence that suited his case while ignoring what did not, and presenting it with the brilliance, energy, and wit of an orator intent on shaking up his audience. Wisenthal's inclusion of much of the typescript ofShaw's original lecture provides a useful basis indeed for reconsidering the Quintessence. The volume includes a valuable introductory essay that provides biogtaphical and other background material. I disagree with some of Wisenthal's views and do not share his appetite for the gratuitous pursuit of analogues. And I regret the absence of any account of an article that Shaw worked on in November 1889 entitled 'Dickens to Ibsen: the manuscript of which is, I believe, in the British Museum. I regret also that Wisenthal has virtually ignored, as other writers tend to do, the role that must have been played in Shaw's early Ibsenite years by Philip Wicksteed. Shaw and Wicksteed were members of a small group that met fortnightly in 1885-90 to discuss economic theory. Wicksteed's proper field was literature, and in February 1888 Shaw heard him lecture on Dante and was exhilarated...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 128-129
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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