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196 Comparative Drama These editions are pricey, but the value received seems adequate to the investment. Ian Lancashire and Paula Neuss have contributed texts and insights of great worth to anyone who wishes to explore the murky regions of the early Tudor drama. JOHN SCOTT COLLEY Vanderbilt University Olga Ragusa. Pirandello: A n Approach to H is Theatre. Edinburgh: Edin­ burgh University Press, 1980. Pp. 198. $16.50. In many ways, this volume is an ideal introduction to Pirandello’s diversified writings—short stories, novels, essays, notes, letters, book reviews, one-act plays and full-length plays. Professor Ragusa not only brings the fiction and prose to bear on the analysis of the plays; she also buttresses her interesting insights with an impressive spectrum of critical opinion. The book covers Pirandello’s Sicilian-regional core, his Verga realism, and the complex transition from novels and short stories to plays, in five major chapters: 1. World View and Theoretical Statements; 2. Early Narrative and Drama; 3. ‘Teatro nuovo’: from Cost e (se vi pare) to Enrico IV; 4. Sei Personaggi in cerca d’autore; and 5. The Later Pirandello. The book ends with a “Select Bibliography,” “Notes,” and an “Index.” We are grateful for this fluent assessment of what is interesting and important as a background to the plays. The author reminds us of Piran­ dello’s early regional plots and his first plays (in Agrigentese)—written for the great Sicilian actor Angelo Musco; she discusses Pirandello’s brief attachment to the “grotesque,” and then comes to focus on some of the better known plays, ending with a (too brief, alas) survey of the “later” Pirandello and the “myth plays” in particular. Since critical opinion is still very meager for the “myth plays,” one is to some extent disappointed that Professor Ragusa does not take up this challenge. She writes: The later Pirandello is the most difficult one—difficult because he has not been studied enough, because he is unfamiliar, and especially because the many layers of his previous production, achieved step by step over a period of about fifty years, reappear and coexist in any one of the plays in an ever-changing configuration: recognizable character types and situations that ask to be understood anew both in spite of and because of their background. If we come to these plays by way of the earlier ones, we may be disturbed by similarities that yet do not conform to the familiar pattern. If we come to them directly, discounting the earlier ones, we risk finding ourselves faced by a shorthand—Pirandello’s achieved personal self-expression—for which we lack the key. They represent a challenge which has barely begun to be taken up. (p. 183) But unless we do take up the challenge, Pirandello’s organic development will continue to elude us. Two other points should be noted here, since—in my opinion—they may help to clarify Pirandello’s organic consistency. The first has to do with Pirandello’s “Sicilian period.” Professor Ragusa reminds us that it comes to an end around 1917, when the success of Cost e (se vi pare), Reviews 197 “bourgeois drama turned grottesco, inaugurated a new direction in his writing.” Just as Pirandello’s narrative began under the star of Sicilian regionalism and verismo, so his theatre began (excepting some youthful, abortive efforts) with the lessons learned from actors, playwrights, and impresarios who had themselves more often than not learned their trade in acting companies similar to those portrayed in Verga’s Don Candeloro e C.i. . . . (p. 63) No one can seriously question this shift to a new kind of writing; but in subscribing to chronological linear development one is apt to miss, for example, the obvious fact that Pirandello has a Sicilian “core” in most of his plays—that even when the inner story of the theater plays is not. clearly identifiable as “Sicilian,” for instance, he nevertheless insists on examining and describing the psychology of his characters in terms familiar to him: the rigorous social mores of his people, the dogmatic acceptance of values, the uncritical adherence to established customs (the easy way out, always). Vivian Mercier notes in his book...


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pp. 196-198
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