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Reviews 389 romance is a symptom of the new course that Dryden was pursuing.” The lesser indebtedness is apparent in the relative brevity of the section devoted to Aureng-Zebe in his “Appendix: Some Sources and Analogues.” The detailed Appendix is valuable in revealing commonplaces of situation in the romances and the drama of the seventeenth century. No doubt there are omissions of which I am unaware. I can cite only one: Calderón de la Barca’s El Principe constante, which Norman Shergold and Peter Ure argued was a major source of The Indian Emperor. It is doubtful indeed, in my opinion, that it was a source of Dryden’s play, but it is at least an impressive analogue. Hughes disagrees forthrightly with a number of critics, myself in­ cluded. He is notably severe in his remarks on two of them, Bruce King, author of Dryden’s Major Plays, and Anne T. Barbeau, author of The Intellectual Design of John Dryden’s Heroic Plays. Although I cannot accept all Miss Barbeau writes, I find stimulating certain of her argu­ ments, notably her conception of a dialectic of history embodied in Dryden’s plays. It is unfortunate that Hughes makes no reference to it. JOHN LOFTIS Stanford University Eric Henry. Chinese Amusement: The Lively Plays of Li Yii. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1980. Pp. xvi + 288. $23.50. In recent years several outstanding books, both in Chinese and English, have been published about Li Yii, a seventeenth-century Chinese novelist, literary critic, and essayist, but comparatively little has been written about Li’s contributions to drama. Eric Henry’s Chinese Amusement, based on Henry’s Yale doctoral dissertation, is a book on a most im­ portant subject. Henry’s four-page biographical introduction is useful to the general reader but of little value to the specialist who may find it too much of a sketchy paraphrase of other biographies of Li Yu. Similarly, Henry’s Chapter VI (“Li Yii and His Critics”) is long on paraphrase but short on critical insight. The first chapter (“The Medium: Drama, Story, and Comedy”) begins with two quotes from E. B. Browning’s Aurora Leigh and Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, which do not seem to have any direct bearing on Li Yu. The chapter delves into what comedy is and what type of comedy Li Yii was writing or creating. The most noteworthy part of this chapter is Henry’s explanation of the Chinese “ch’uan-ch’i” drama to the reader. Chapters II, III, IV, and V are entitled “Life as Impersonation: The Paired Soles,” “Life as Sincerity: The Amazing Reunion,” “Life as Error: The Kite’s Mistake," and “Life as Obedience: What Can You Do?” respectively. Henry’s discussions of each are de­ tailed and interlaced with long quotes from each play. While Henry’s diligence is both remarkable and commendable, the chapters are less than interesting to read. Two major factors contributing to this boredom are Henry’s word­ 390 Comparative Drama iness and his feeble yet persistent attempts to compare Li Yii’s plays to their Western counterparts. It would have been much more rewarding if Henry had used a competent editor and avoided all comparisons. The following paragraph, chosen at random, exemplifies the book’s major flaw: its near incomprehensibility: In short, the entire play may be said to advocate the oppression and persecution of women. We may say, in addition, that the oppression and persecution it advocates is much more savage and much more thorough than anything that may be found in plays on order of THE TAMING OF THÉ SHREW. What possible defense or, failing defense, what possible palliation can be found for the advocacy of such an extremely inhumane position? An appeal to the conditions of the author’s intellectual environ­ ment—to the rudimentary development of certain humanitarian and egali­ tarian ideas—is totally futile and useless in this case. Such an appeal may excuse un-conscious acceptance of inhumanity; it cannot excuse conscious glorification of inhumanity, (p. 152) Henry’s “Appendix: Act Summaries of Discussed Plays,” 70 pages long and nearly a fourth of the book, is dreary, in view of the fact that Henry...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 389-390
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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