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favourite, the historical romance. Paul A. Friesen's The Burning Stone (Heinemann, vi, 297, $6.50) is set in the early 1690s and features the British attacks on New France of those years. ''The major events," says the author, "are factual," but naturally certain liberties are taken, including changing the date of the Salem witch hunts. This is not very reliable history, then, nor is it very good popular fiction-the characters are wooden, the dialogue stilted, the plot predictable. The same is largely true of The Magni~cent Failure, by Giles A. Lutz (Doubleday, vi, 330, $5.95), an attempt to leaven the familiar story of Louis Riel's last rebellion by mixing in some love interest. Lutz has more promising material, since the events are inherently more dramatic. However, as in Friesen's book, neither the actual nor the fictional incidents or characters are given much semblance of life. Both books are aimed at an uncritical audience. (J. M. STEOMONO) HUMANITIES LITERARY STUDIES D. J. Conacher's stimulating and thoughtful study (Euripidean Drama: Myth, Theme and Structure [University of Toronto Press, xvi, 355, $8.50]), deals with the whole body of extant Euripidean drama (except for Rhesus, On which, not completely convinced by Ritchie's book, Conacher suspends judgment). It is an attempt "to relate the varied and often novel structures and techniques of Euripidean drama to the varied and often novel themes which the dramatist has chosen to expound" (vi). In an introductory chapter which compares Euripides' approach to tragedy with that of Aeschylus and Sophocles, Conacher defines six different types of EUripidean drama (14-15), and it is under these headings that he groups and discusses the plays in the rest of the book. These divisions are: first, "those plays which may properly be called 'mythological'" ( Hippolytus and Baechae), to which is added the "nearmythical " Heraeles; secondly, political and social tragedies (Supplices, Heraclidae); third, tragedies of "war and its aftermath" (Troades, Hecuba, Andromache); fourth, "realistic tragedy" (Medea, Electra, Orestes); fifth, "romantic tragedy" (Ion, Helena, IT ); and sixth and last, "satyric and prosatyric" (Cyclops, Alcestis). Two plays ( Phoenissae and LA) which, "while they lack the credibility and thematic concentration of tragedy nevertheless contain certain paratragic effects and are HUMANITIES 391 quite different in substance and tone from romantic tragedy" are discussed under the somewhat prejudicial rubric "tragedie manquee" (227-64). Conacher is aware that "among plays which operate on the same general level of reality" these distinctions are not always crystal clear; "the groupings . . . are intended as a critical convenience rather than as rigid and mutually exclusive categories" (15). On the other hand he can claim, with some justification, that "distinctions between plays clearly opposed in mythical approach (the Hippolytus and the Helena for example) or in the kind of reality they treat (the Bacchae and the Troades for example) are readily recognizable." Some kind of division into groups is of course forced On any openminded reader of the whole of Euripides. Perhaps it is due merely to the caprice of ancient selection and the hazards of mediaeval transmission which gave us so many more of his plays, but whatever the reaSO n no one can fail to recognize the extreme diversity of method, structure, and approach exhibited in the surviving plays of Euripides as compared with the seven Sophoclean plays. Even in the case of Sophocles we have come to realize that we should not assess the unity and cohesion of the Trachiniae by standards derived from the Oedipus Tyrannus; the need for critical flexibility is even clearer when we consider the obvious differences in tone as well as structure between, say, the Medea and the Helen. Conacher approaches each playas an individual problem and investigates in each case the relation between theme and structure; his arrangement is not based On any theory of the development of Euripides' thought Or method ("these divisions do not correspond very preCisely to any historical grouping of the poet's plays") but results from the detailed and often subtle discussion of the structural and thematic complexities of each individual work. In his exploration Conacher has deserved well of the general reader and the scholar alike; his discussion is clear, well...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 390-441
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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