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HUMANITIES 435 and punctuation, 'the flavour and immediacy' (p 19) are vividly present. The relationship between the three directors remains remarkably formal throughout, lacking the expressions of friendship and shared aims in other correspondence between Yeats and Lady Gregory or the intimacy of Synge's letters to Molly Allgood. Yet the directors' daily striving, against often petty obstacles, to make the Irish theatre 'a place of intellectual excitement' (Yeats, Sarnhain, 1903) is certainly captured. Through Molly, Synge served to link directors and players and to maintain company peace. Yeats, on the other hand, proved 'too impetuous' (p 93), with Lady Gregory 'acting as drag' (p 94). With Yeats insisting that 'this theatre must have somebody in it who is distinctly dangerous' (p 88) or describing 'the country towns in Ireland [as] ... mainly animal' (p 124), Synge's nerves were frequently strained. 'Peace comes: Lady Gregory lectured Padraic Colum in 1906, 'not from trying to please one's neighbours , but in making up one's mind what is the right path and in then keeping to it' (p 104). Indeed, all three directors spoke of 'the enemy' and conceived of their desperate struggles in terms of warfare. Yet what Saddlemyer calls 'Synge's self-protective withdrawal' (p 13) could at times be dismissed as pusillanimousness (Lady Gregory, p 193 n 1) 'egotism' (Yeats, p 195 n 1) even 'cowardice' (Miss Horniman, p 199 n 1). Synge may have been the least political and nationalistic of the directors , yet it was he who commented, properly enough, of company discipline, 'coercion has never been a success in Ireland' (p 271). 'How can we make them understand: Yeats complained in 1907 to Synge in the midst of a squabble between players and directors, 'that The Playboy which they hate is fine art and that [George Fitzmaurice's] The Dressmaker which they like is nothing?' (p 265). This selection of letters, impeccably edited, shows that such understanding and appreciation demanded from the directors dedication, manipulation, common sense, as well as taste, daring, and hope, but brought all too often also hard grind, frustration, and, for Yeats at least, the fascination of what's difficult. The repercussions are nevertheless still being felt eighty years later on a world stage and we are all the richer for them. (BRIAN JOHN) Brian Tyson. The Story of Shaw's 'St. Joan' McGill-Queen's University Press. 142, $20.00 Mr Tyson 'seeks to do what has not been done before: to trace the development in Shaw's mind of his play about Joan of Arc; to follow his hand over the shorthand notebook in which he penned his first draft; to account for significant revisions to that script; to recapture the impact of the play's first appearances on the stages of the world; and briefly to estimate its continuing influence on twentieth-century drama' (p vii). 436 LEITERS IN CANADA 1982 Much of the book is based on firsthand textual research, it is clearly organized and straight-forward in style, and it contributes many new insights in detail about Shaw's intent and achievement. It only partly succeeds in combining textual genetics with appreciation of the play's vitality in performance, however; at times the analysis seems tentative and pedestrian; and, despite a neat conclusion, its final effect is flat. The problem is partly one of organization. After discussing what prompted Shaw's interest in Joan, exactly when the play was written, and possible sources, Tyson devotes the main part of his study to a scene-by-scene examination of literary influences and key variations between the drafts and final script. Such an approach has obvious virtues of clarity and closeness to the text, but also certain weaknesses. All scenes do not respond equally, so the commentary has its dull patches; possible influences are mentioned so sporadically that one cannot really be sure of their importance at any point; one never gets an overall impression of the various drafts; and perhaps because of this, Tyson's analysis seems often unduly tentative - as, for example, his method of handling stylistic revisions by juxtaposing parallel passages with a general comment that Shaw's alterations produce a more lyrical (or dramatic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 435-437
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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