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It has always been one of the misfortunes of the American theatre that artists have not been welcomed onto its major stages. Elsewhere, in Spain, Miro designed for a puppet theatre in his last years, and in Belgium, only a few years ago, the surrealist Paul Delvaux was designing a production for director Henri Ronse. Perhaps Hockney's recent successes might suggest to others working in the theatre new possibilities of collaboration. That would indeed bring conventional theatre design into a new space age. Bonnie Marranca Dislecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment Samuel Beckett Edited by Ruby Cohn Grove Press, 178 pp.; $5.95 (paper); $17.50 (cloth) Disiecta contains short essays in criticism and aesthetics, and fragments of prose and drama, not widely published before now. The pieces appear in their original English, French or German, and span about thirty years of Beckett's writing. Most of them were written before the mid-1950s, when he finally began to be able to support himself with his writing. When Beckett was 22, James Joyce invited him to analyze influences on his Work in Progress. The result, "Dante...Bruno.Vico..Joyce," the first essay in the book, is an erudite and entertaining account of Vico's theories of the orgin of language and abstraction, and the parallels in the creation of a new language from dialects by Dante and Joyce. First published in 1929, it includes ideas of that time that have become a part of modern cultural heritage. Beckett writes about Joyce: Here form is content, content is form. You complain that this stuff is not written in English. It is not written at all. It is not to be read-or rather it is not only to be read. It is to be looked at and listened to. His writing is not about something; it is that something itself. Beckett's reviews are caustic, humorous, perceptive, eccentric, covering books on Mozart and Proust, a translation of Rilke, and works by Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and contemporary Irish poets. Early expressions of an underlying aesthetic of Beckett's own work are present. He praises the plays of Sean O'Casey, especially Juno and the Paycock, because they communicate "dramatic dehiscence, mind and world come asunder in irreparable dissociation." There is a whole section of Beckett's writing on painters, including "Three Dialogues," a dramatization of three orientations towards creating art. Tal Coat "never stirred from the field of the possible." Masson is "in search of the difficulty rather than in its clutch." It is in Bram van Velde, "the first to admit that to be an artist is to fail," that Beckett sees the formulation of a 116 new order of art. He is the artist who acts when there is no occasion for it, "nothing to paint and nothing to paint with." Other selections include an excerpt from Beckett's first novel, a literary hoax, and the 1937 play fragment, Human Wishes. Letters Beckett has written about his own work include extracts from letters to director Alan Schneider about Endgame. Although the collection is not arranged chronologically, the foreword and the notes provide at least approximate dates. It is well worth reading for insights into literary history as well as Beckett's development as a writer. The young Beckett clearly loves to write. The overall impression of the book is an infectious pleasure of honing thought with language. That the thought is excellent makes reading it a treat. Laurie Lassiter United States Laurie Anderson Harper & Row, 232 pp.; $19.95 (paper) "I see myself as part of a long tradition of American humor. You know-Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Roadrunner, Yosemite Sam," explains Laurie Anderson in United States. Her book, the basis of her 1983 performance of the piece at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has a scrapbook feel to it-lots of photos accompanied by stories, songs, dialogues, information, dreams and wordplay-rather than being a formal performance text striving to recapture the purity of the event. Her humor is indeed cartoony, stand-up comedy, filled with allusions to art, science, landscape, animals, and all kinds of odd-ball bits of informationAnderson is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 116-117
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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