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274 Comparative Drama Grace Wellborn are the princesses, and so on. In Cartelli's essay, as in Bednarz's, we are dealing with the Fallacy of the Unique Source. Patrick Cheney's "Jonson's The New Inn and Plato's Myth of the Hermaphrodite" fits nicely with the feminist interest in androgny, though · Cheney does not identify himself as a feminist. He argues that this play is a "humour romance," that it looks .back to "a specific symbol at the center of Elizabethan literature: the hermaphrodite as a symbol of love," and that it is "both a comedy and a commentary on comedy," that it is meta-drama (p. 175) . Cheney rejects the many attempts to read the play ironically, and he bases his arguments on a careful reading of the text. As far as I can see, this is competently done, and with this essay I . take no exceptions. My reactions to this volume are-obviously-mixed. In many respects it was a stimulating read. Nevertheless, the Editorial Committee of Renaissance Drama could, I trust, select a better group of essays if they did not set a topic for each edition, but simply selected the best essays­ on any aspects of Renaissance drama-submitted for any given year. WILLIAM GODSHALK University of Cincinnati William B. Worthen. The Idea of the Actor: Drama and the Ethics of Performance. Princeton University Press, 1984. Pp. x + 269. $25.00. William B. Worthen's The Idea of the Actor is at the same time modest and ambitious, syncretic and fragmented, bold and cautious. It is, there.­ fore, both highly stimulating and sometimes frustrating. Subtitled Drama and the Ethics of Performance, the book investigates "the meaning of moral action in a theatricalized world," as exemplified by performance theory and dramatic representation of performance in three periods of theater: the Renaissance, the Sentimental, and the Modern. Acknowledg­ ing the stimulus and continuing influence of Michael Goldman's The Actor's Freedom (Viking, 1975,) , Worthen offers us a "fuller fleshing­ out" of Goldman's provocative theory of drama, which probes our fascination with and yet profound distrust of acting and actors. Implicit in much of Worthen's analysis and speculation is Goldman's basic notion that actors represent for us, vicariously, the power and the danger of impersonation and self-creation. Since the Renaissance and the substitu­ tion of man-made for God-given order, a heady sense of liberation competes with feelings of dread and alienation, often in the same indi­ vidual-and certainly in Worthen's three theaters, Renaissance, Enlighten­ ment, and Modern. Modern man, from Hamlet to Hamm, experiences the freedom of the player, and his confinement within a fiction; the per­ sona as mask both licenses and imprisons. Like Worthen, I find Goldman's essay brilliant; and I can't help feeling that Worthen's "fleshing-out" might be more fully coherent were it to trace more continuously and even more boldly the theme of "freedom" and its ambiguities than it does. But per­ haps I should be content with what it offers, which is much. For Renaissance audiences and moralists, acting was both divine and Reviews 275 demonic; and Hamlet is Wortben's prototype of the performer as both liberated and imprisoned by his ambiguous performance. In Volpone, a play about many lusts but supremely, for Worthen, the lust to act, Volpone's roles effectuate his power, his pleasure, and finally, his entrap­ ment, as he is rendered powerless by the feigning of his "death." Twelfth Night offers for Worthen a rich collection of role-players, some liberated, some trapped by their feigning, some both at once. The Duchess of Malfi is the most extreme of Worthen's examples in its identification of action with acting and its histrionic subversion of all certainty. The least integrated, to my mind the least satisfactory of Worthen's three sections, is the middle one, on the Sentimental Theater. For Worthen, Garrick epitomizes the age and its fascination with the actor as social hero and acting as the integration of feeling and manners. Certainly, the ethical ideal of the Sentimental Theater is what Worthen attributes to Goldsmith's Kate Hardcastle, fully "expressive" and yet artful...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 274-276
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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