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quickly becomes tedious and then frustrating, fretted as it is with implicit but unanswered questions. For instance, it is interesting in historical terms that a play written in 1909 dramatizes the writing of "modern poetry" as a symptom of insanity. And that in a 1910 one-act entitled Sabotage a child bleeds to death while its father is out unionizing and singing the "Internationale ." An energetic deconstruction of a few plots like these would have helped clarify the peculiar sensibility of Grand Guignol. The Grand Guignol's strongest section is its introduction, in which Gordon confidently traces a native tradition of terror in European drama. But even there, many issues remain unaddressed. If Grand Guignol's influence is chiefly relegated to horror films of the '30s, how do we account for the Freddy Krugers and Jasons of the present? In a dramatic form that thrived on the sexually scabrous, why was there virtually no exploitation of homosexuality in the earlier repertoire? If Grand Guignol was so aggressively anti-bourgeois, why did so many of its plays reaffirm middle-class values? True, this may be faulting the author for failing to reach goals he never had in mind. Certainly the book is well written, and is enlivened with mysteries glimpsed in passing (such as the expatriate Ho Chi Minh's constant presence at Guignol performances). Also, the abundant posters, cartoons , and publicity photos that illustrate the text go a long way toward illuminating the repressed hysteria of this theatre at its best-or worst. In all, Gordon's work is groundbreaking but unfinished; though The Grand Guignol successfully establishes its subject's importance as a subgenre, it remains for another historian to forge the missing sociological links. Mead Hunter The FeministSpectatoras Critic Jill Dolan UMI Research Press; 154 pp.; $39.95 (cloth), $19.95 (paper) In the transposability of its key terms, Dolan's title hints at a deconstruction , playful and potentially radical, of some of the theatre's constitutive fictions . "Feminists," "spectators," and "critics" are on the verge of dissolving each other, replacing the stable model of theatre as meaningprocess -from(usually male) playwright to (assumptively male) spectator to (assuredly male) critic-with a less linear, more transgressive model of theatre as a signifying-circuit. Here the agency of meaning is never fully or finally established, and even self-aware ideological positions-like "feminist," or, for that matter, "woman," "man," or "person of 163 color"--are problematized. Dolan, however, takes her title, like her project, very seriously, and would have little interest in the kind of deconstructive fantasy her title occasioned in me. Far from entertaining a transposability of terms, her method calls for and produces a hyper-awareness of the feminist position in theatre reception. Indeed, the first part of the book is devoted to a careful exposition of what Dolan (not at all idiosyncratically) indentifies as the three main streams of contemporary feminism: liberal, cultural, and materialist. Some readers will no doubt find the scheme too rigid; I find that a small price to pay for the exceptional lucidity with which the classification is elaborated. This section alone would be enough to guarantee this book its place as an essential text in contemporary drama theory. Dolan's own theoretical position, as a materialist feminist, is explicitly drawn from and shared with feminist film critics like Teresa de Lauretis and Laura Mulvey. Her premise is that mainstream American theatre constitutes , addresses, and reproduces the ideology of an "ideal spectator" who is white, heterosexual, middle-class, and male. Adopting Mulvey's famous pschoanalytic account of cinematic structure as a reenactment of male Oedipal desire, Dolan agrees that "male desire drives all narrative and objectifies women," and therefore "the female spectator is placed in an untenable relationship to representation." Dolan's book is an inquiry into the theatrical and critical strategies which will challenge the hegemony and reduce the power of this traditional male "subject of representation." Before getting to the strategies she considers most successful, Dolan entertains-and eventually dismisses-two kinds of claims parallel to hers: those of a mimetic feminist drama seeking to identify and represent typically female experience (her example is 'nightMotherand her rejection is based, not...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 163-165
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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