In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

222 Comparative Drama every practical technique or procedure used by his flesh-and-blood col­ leagues.” In these days of dogmatic adherence to a single approach, it is important to emphasize again that any study that ignores the findings of other critics, especially in the complexity of Shakespeare studies, is destined to appear superficial. The real danger of Mr. Rose’s book is that it will encourage students to oversimplify Shakespearean analysis. They may feel that when they have found the panels they have understood the play. When Mr. Rose says that his new tools are equally good in the classroom and the study, he suggests that what happens in the classroom is different from what happens in the study. The tools here are likely to be too rough for the refined process that many classes and inhabitants of studies both use in their common search for critical understanding. The opening chapters recommend thinking of Shakespeare spatially as well as temporally, then suggest that each scene is a “speaking picture,” and finally move into diagrammed analysis to prove this point. Having demonstrated by the third chapter that these speaking pic­ tures are related to one another, Mr. Rose gives a series of the pictures in detail as he sees them in Hamlet. His last two chapters present verbally and diagrammatically some more pictures from the earlier and later plays. Effort is made to perceive developing artistry in Shakespeare’s pictorial conception, but the book is so short that it tends to assert a progressive pattern rather than to prove it. The major portion of the book is devoted to recasting plot into panels rather than in scenes. WILLIAM M. JONES University of Missouri, Columbia David H. Hesla. The Shape of Chaos, an Interpretation of the Art of Samuel Beckett. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971. Pp. vii + 252. $9.75. Can Samuel Beckett’s convoluted thought, tracked throughout his fiction, dramas, and essays, be amalgamated indissociably with the history of ideas (and with influential Western philosophers since the preSocratics )? David Hesla’s redoubtable trek into murky depths of the Beckettian chaos illumines this hitherto unexplained, almost impene­ trable, lost wilderness of the Nobel prize winner’s creative soul. Hesla’s chapter titles (“Problem, Theme and Style: the Beginnings”; “The Spectator and the Machine: Murphy”; “The Defeat of the ProtoZetetic : Watt”; “Which I is I: The Trilogy”; “Time, Ground and the End: The Drama”; “Reduction, Reflection, Negation: Some Versions of Consciousness”; “Dialectic and the Absolute Absence”) accurately gauge the volume’s rigorous, granite-like, seemingly pyramidal climb toward a dialectical and almost rapturous unity glimpsed above formlessness and chaos. What then is Beckett’s artistic unity? To answer, Hesla shunts aside aesthetics for the most part. He identifies Beckett’s stylistic genius in Reviews 223 twisting language with multiple patterns of philosophical tension, ulti­ mately dialectic, Hegelian, Sartrean, bequeathed by Husserl and older forerunners. A problematical thesis comes forth. Beckett’s turbulent art, thus far left muddy by exegetes of literary craft, is best clarified in totality through parallels and analogies with the evolving but everrecurring tides of historical ideas, and particularly in the sempiternal interaction of philosophies. Hesla’s premise may of course be challenged, perhaps even con­ troverted. It must, however, be recognized; for it lies at the core of his thinking, his method, and his findings. Versed in theology, literature, and the history of philosophy, the author strays compulsively from focus on Beckett. A listing of analogs he cites in a single chapter (the first) embodies this ponderous over­ balance: Augustine, Pascal, Diogenes Laertius, John Climacus, Schopen­ hauer, Parmenides, Heracleitus, Democritus of Abdera, Valentians, the Desert Fathers, the Sceptics, Descartes, St. Paul, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Camus, Wittgenstein, Geulincx, Malebranche, Spinoza, Berkeley, Husserl, Rimbaud, Joyce. . . . A plethora of such citations often sub­ merges the quest for Beckett’s world, above all his fiction, the study’s major focus. Where and how are we to locate Beckett’s plays in this historytraversing cosmogony? Some thirty-five pages give a succinct, memorable overview of several of Beckett’s crucial dramas: Godot, Endgame, Act without Words I. Hesla, in concluding syntheses, is brilliant: “Is [Beckett] nothing but the connoisseur of the impasse...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 222-223
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.