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198 Comparative Drama departure. The concern in Pirandello is not how to give a recognizable artistic structure to reality but how to create— spontaneously—the illu­ sion, on stage, of a solid base from which each of us moves outward into the center of life. Pirandello’s theater is nothing at all if not the very act of creation on stage. The unresolved action in Pirandello is always a conclusive dram atic experience. We miss that experience only if we insist on statem ent, on traditional critical terminology. Pirandello’s paradoxical structure, his dialectical spiraling toward some kind of insight, is a consistent posture and a fundamental commitment. The “myth plays” follow the Pirandellian pattern and are indeed a part of the organic whole. They deserve to be studied with the same intense concentration displayed in critical assess­ ments of Sei personaggi, Cosl e (se vi pare) and Enrico IV. There is much in this volume that alerts the reader and scholar into provocative critical reassessments, the kind that Professor Mercier sug­ gests are needed for proper understanding of the Absurd; and if Piran­ dello is— as Robert Brustein insists—the forerunner of our contemporary theater, then the challenge lies in developing the kind of critical dialectic that will bring us to the very edge of the tantalizing Pirandellian question of identity. ANNE PAOLUCCI St. John’s University James K. Lyon. Bertolt Brecht in A m erica. Princeton: Princeton Univer­ sity Press, 1980. Pp. xiv + 408. 27 illus. $19.75. As the title suggests, Mr. Lyon seeks in this book to describe and document Brecht’s experiences in America. His volume is the result of some ten years of research ranging through published and unpublished sources, archives and private collections, and interviews with some ninety persons who knew or worked with Brecht in America. Much of the evidence has not been previously used. Unless substantial new informa­ tion surfaces, Mr. Lyon’s seems likely to become the accepted account of Brecht’s career during the years 1941 to 1947. It provides a balanced view that neither idolizes nor denigrates its subject; it is more admiring than adversely critical, but it does not ignore the “warts.” Mr. Lyon has divided his book into a number of sections: Prologue to American Exile, Brecht in Hollywood, the Difficult Brecht, Brecht and the American Theatre, Brecht and Feelings, the Charismatic Brecht, Brecht and the Germans [in Exile], the Ideological Brecht, and the Last Act in America [Brecht and the HUAC]. As these headings show, Mr. Lyon’s attention is divided between concern for Brecht’s professional activities and concern for Brecht’s character and ideas. This split means that the reader is given a rather full account of what Brecht worked on and accomplished during these years and a multi-faceted view of Brecht as a human being. Brecht emerges as an uncompromising man who, never doubting his own genius and frustrated by lack of opportunity and appre­ ciation, manipulated people shamelessly in an attempt to gain his due. Reviews 199 But, despite the callous, even insulting, treatment by Brecht, almost all of those who worked with Brecht found him so charismatic or the evi­ dence of his genius so compelling that they forgave him and remained loyal to him. Still, Brecht emerges as a person one might prefer to know from afar. Mr. Lyon describes in considerable detail Brecht’s attempts to find work in Hollywood, his one significant film project (Hangmen A b o Die), and Brecht’s contempt for Hollywood, with which he was completely out of step. Brecht’s desire to succeed in New York’s theatre was sim­ ilarly frustrated, in part because Brecht demanded (often after contracts were signed and rehearsals were well under way) that he have complete control over all productions of his plays. Projects involving Schweyk in the Second W orld War, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Private Life of the M aster Race, and The Duchess of Malfi all ended in disappoint­ ment. Only Galileo, after protracted collaboration with Charles Laughton and others, came near to fulfilling Brecht’s desires, and even it was not performed in New York until after Brecht had returned...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 198-199
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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