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186 Comparative Drama the absolute of modern . (whith once meant the present) and hurtled ourselves into something we termed the post-modem, Brater (Beckett?) cannot accept minimal as an: absolute (though it once meant smallest in amount or degree) and must similarly propel himself beyond minimalism. What does this kind of art yield? A mood. a vision~the author'a-in which the spectator, bereft of any familiar structure (perish the thought!) or even his absolutes, mayor may not participate. Not I, for example, is an "agony of perceivedness" in which the audience participates through its "visual limitation in focusing the lenses of its own eyes on the minimal [stage] image" (p. 20): this is minimaUsm indeed. And subsequent to Beckett granting Miss Jessica Tandy three extra minutes beyond the eighteen originally intended for the play, Brater notes that "the extra three minutes yields little to the audience in terms of its ability to understand in any rational way just what is going on" (p. 23). But that's the whole point: we are nQt expected to bring our rational faculties to this theater. Where once in WalJing for Godot the play contrived a metaphor. for the misery of human persistence when the solace of death or answers is removed, we are now beyond such paltry mentalisms. "As the cUrtain rises in Footfalls we are relieved to find a human being onstage who is, as·far ..as the eye can see, of 'the same species as Pozza,' made 'in God's image' .. (p. 52). Why does Brater find that we are "relieved"? Was our. expectation of a mentally apprehensible stage truth legitimate after all?--ar. is .this simply another illusion of ours, a vestige of old-fashioned (theater) habits, that must I;le dispelled? Pathetically, Havel noted his. "shock" in Pankrac prison when, "on the occasion of one of her one-hour visits allowed four times a year, my wife told me [that] at Avignon there .took place a night of solidarity with me, and that you [Samul:llBeckett] took the opportunity to write, and to. make pUblic for the fu:st time, your play Catastrophe." Little did Havel know the play carlnot be reduced to a political message any more than Brecht could. have carried out his plan to adapt Wailing for Godot by "anchoring the characters and their lines" socially: "as always," Brater reminds us, "such one-dimensional readings are bound to be reductive. ... The energy of [Catastrophe] cannot be contained by anything as neat as a swift denunciation of repressive regimes, however attractive such a statement from Beckett might be" (p. 144). If Havel's imprisonment and an explicit statement about the regime that imprisoned him are less important than Beckett's exacerbated search for the ever sparer representation of his own inner consciousness, it is of course not surprising that in confronting the dramatist's latter-day stages the spectator will have to take his· chances in this new form of catch-ascatch -can. Still, to a less esoteric eye, it seems a pity that humane' contact , .with a political activist or a thinking spectator, should now have been lost somewhere beyond minimalism. What is this new world into which we are propelled on the other side of our boundaries? Will we now be free of boundaries,· or will it exacerbate our sense Of them by making us aware of its own? Have we indeed leapt into a new world'l-or is that world simply our old shackled and dispirited one which it mirrors and extends, even though it neither verbalizes a. comment on it nor presents us with a clear image? If so, are T , Reviews 187 the dramatic or aesthetic gains (?)achieved in the process sufficient compensation? DAVID I. GROSSVOGEL Cornell University Jeffrey N. Cox. In the Shadows of Romance. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1987. Pp. 335. $36.95. The: central impUlse for Jeffrey Cox's study is the simple fact that we know so little about Romantic drama and ta1ce so little pleasure in reading it. Yet, "dramatizing was the central mode of the romantic imagination," Cox claims. We have come to understand the dramatic element in their lyric poetry, and in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 187-189
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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