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Reviews 215 chapter and admits, “Consequently although they [the plays] are con­ cerned in part with philosophical problems, they are concerned even more with the psychology—using this word in a very broad sense—of concrete individuals” (p. 132). The plays, he adds, either analyze or explore the human situation. In his final paragraph he concludes, “In fact, one might say that in all of Beckett’s works, philosophy is simply an aspect of the psychology of the characters” (p. 141). When an im­ posed order, which is in fact an ego mechanism, dissolves, the characters can become themselves, and this is heartening. Webb’s final sentence reads: “For becoming themselves is the essential step to seeing with their own eyes, and this in turn is what alone can usher them into direct vision and silence, a peace that would, quite literally, pass understanding be­ cause it would be the very immediateness of their lives—their own hearts’ truth, their own hearts’ love, their own hearts’ hate” (pp. 141-42). In Webb’s Beckett, meaninglessness is significant, and significance leads to meaning wherein the willing reader can construct another system. Finally, the book was apparently in press for some time, since it treats neither Breath (1969) nor Not I (1972). MARILYN GADDIS ROSE State University of New York at Binghamton Charles R. Lyons. Henrik Ibsen: The Divided Consciousness. Crosscur­ rents, Modern Critiques Series. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univer­ sity Press, 1972, Pp. viii + 191. $5.95. Charles R. Lyons’ Henrik Ibsen makes a deliberate and, in my opin­ ion, salutary break with the main tendencies of Ibsen criticism and schol­ arship. His book studies the unity of Ibsen’s work, not as a function of an external historical or intellectual scheme, but as the exploration of a single problem, the nature of individual consciousness. Close readings of Brand, Peer Gynt, Emperor and Galilean, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm , The Master Builder, and When We Dead Awaken show how meta­ phorical structure, formal condensation, and realistic detail gravitate about Ibsen’s central concern, antithetical ways of seeing the self. The basic dramatic situation in an Ibsen play crystallizes around a hero who is acutely tempted to submit to immediacy. Since any such submission entails, however, a loss of control both of external order and an autonomous self, the hero is driven to create an imaginary reality as a surrogate. The action dramatizes the failure of this strategy, yet affirms its necessity. The same basic movement occurs again and again from Brand to When We Dead Awaken. The structures which hold this basic drama are very different, and serve to focus and to deepen Ibsen’s analysis of the central problem. The most obvious difference between Ibsen’s early dramas and the tightly organized plays of the middle and late period is the increased attention given the human and natural environment. In the early plays the secondary characters embody the hero’s dilemma, and we know 216 Comparative Drama little else about them. In Brand, for example, the Dean and the Mayor, who sacrifice integrity for comfort and reputation, simply provide foils for Brand’s conception of moral autonomy. In the later plays Ibsen often represents the baffling complexity of reality through the density of the secondary characters. Rebecca West in Rosmersholm, for example, is herself a complete individual, and she defines Rosmer’s conflict by under­ going a recognition analogous to his. Similarly, Ibsen’s creation of realistic semblance requires from the spectator a more concrete and specific re­ sponse to the strategies of consciousness. Formal condensation and realistic detail increasingly provide an illusion of solidity and compre­ hension, while the work of the play destroys that illusion. This analysis of the strategies of consciousness and their structural ramifications is only a part of Professor Lyons’ argument. His study of Ibsen’s metaphorical structures and their interrelations with dramatic action is of crucial importance in the interpretation of these plays. Ibsen’s primary metaphors are overdetermined in the same way as dream symbols. That is, the metaphors do not simply add new strata to fixed meanings; rather, their significance is limited only by the dramatic struc­ ture. This makes it possible to fuse...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 215-216
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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