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88 ROBERTSON DAVIES and says, 'indeed, we are more passionate than before" If we are, then is our condition involved with pity and fear? Or are these emotions somebow purified of their self-regarding elements, that aspect of pity Yeats so detested in Wilfred Owen, and that aspect of fear that makes us run away? Tbere are other places wbere readers will want to take issue with the author, or feel perbaps that be bas glided too quickly from a particular to a general point. Nevertheless, The Dramatist's Experience offers a bumane and intelligent view of wbat the study of literature is all about, illustrated by a ricb and intimate knowledge of European and American literature. Tbougb much of the empbasis is on drama, tbe title may mislead, for this is rather a book about the experience of tbe critic, tbe reader, and the audience in the theatre. eR.A. FOAKl!s) SHAW' What may truthfully be said about these four volumes, except that they must be ranked with the leaden monuments that toilsome scbolarship erects to genius? The sad fact is that if one reads Sbaw, one bas no need of these works, for the best things in them are the direct quotations, and the writers bave been unable to throw new ligbt on anything that Sbaw himself thougbt it important to make clear. It bas been said that 'Publisb or perisb' is the admonition of too many American universities; alas, to publisb may also be a way of perisbing. Tbe initial difficulties that face anybody wbo writes about Sbaw is that be bimself possessed a style as lucid and beguiling as any in Englisb literature, and he did not know what it was to be tedious. To quote often from Sbaw in a book written in dowdy prose is to produce an effect tbat soon becomes embarrassing . But a greater difficulty lies in the fact that comment on a great writer written by a critic whose mind seems to be of an order utterly different from his own produces incongruities so extreme that the critic appears, unjustly, to be stupid. Of the four books under consideration Professor Crompton's is much the best. He discusses Shaw's principal plays up to and including Saint Joan, and he looks through and beyond the plays to the society from which they arose and of which they were criticisms. He has not been able to avoid the wearisome necessity of recounting the plots and rehearsing once again the familiar points, but he offers also some personal insights, and is occasionally so daring as to suggest that Shaw drew some of his characters from persons known to him. But if, in Anns and the Man, Cunninghame Graham and Sergius Saranoff are alike at a few points, tbey are quite unlike at many more, and if Sidney "'l..ouis Crompton, Shaw the Dramatist. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 1969. Pp. 261. $7.95; Charles A. Carpenter, Bernard Shaw and the Art of Destroying Ideals. Madison, University of Wisconsin Press 1969. Pp. 262. $10.00; Harold Fromm, Bemord Shaw and. the Theater in the Nineties. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press 1967. Pp. 234. $5.00; R.F. Dietrich, Portrait of tM Artist as a Young Superman. Gainesville: University of Florida Press 1969. Pp. 197. $7.50. SHAW 89 Webb was rather like Bluntschli in his commonplace aspects, he was a very different man in all that made him a powerful social force. To suggest such likenesses is to be unjust to two men who were remarkable in their own way, and to reveal a want of understanding of the creative process, which takes hints from life but is never hobbled by it. Professor Carpenter quotes lavishly, with the unfortunate result that Shaw makes all his best points for him. He shows good sense in his consideration of Shaw, but as good sense is not uncommon among people who read such books as this, he tells us nothing that we could not find out for ourselves, under happier circumstances, by reading Shaw himself. Further. he is careless in his writing about a man who never wrote carelessly. To say that the final line of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 88-90
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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