- A Complete Concordance to The Chester Mystery Plays by Jean D. Pfleiderer, Michael J. Preston, and: A KWIC Concordance to the Plays the Wakefield Master by Michael J. Preston, Jean Pfleiderer (review)
- Comparative Drama
- Western Michigan University
- Volume 16, Number 2, Summer 1982
- pp. 199-200
- View Citation
- Additional Information
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 to Europe. But, if Mr. Lyon gives us a detailed account of many facets of Brecht’s character and work, his organization of material creates prob lems for the reader. Because each division of the book pursues a single topic through the six-year period 1941-1947, the reader often encounters material already discussed, although admittedly from a different angle. Furthermore, the reader is faced with having to figure out how one aspect of Brecht’s career relates chronologically to other aspects; and ultimately Lyon leaves it up to his readers to make a chronological synthesis of the varied aspects of Brecht’s life and work in America. Bertolt Brecht in Am erica is not a work of criticism; its author makes little attempt to evaluate Brecht’s writings. Nevertheless, much of the material will be useful to critics—information about the circumstances that prompted the writing of certain poems, plays, and scenarios; explica tions of facets of Brecht’s ideas and attitudes; documentation of Brecht’s working methods, use of collaborators, and the origins of variant versions of short passages or entire works; and many other matters. This book clearly meets a need since it is the first major attempt to document the years Brecht spent in American exile. Both for that reason and for its general excellence, it is a significant addition to Brecht studies. OSCAR G. BROCKETT University o f Texas at Austin Jean D. Pfleiderer and Michael J. Preston. A Com plete Concordance to The Chester Mystery Plays. New York: Garland, 1981. Pp. 513. $100. Michael J. Preston and Jean Pfleiderer. A KW 1C Concordance to the Plays the W akefield M aster. New York: Garland, 1982. Pp. xxi + 472. $ 100. The University of Colorado project to provide concordances for all of Middle English drama is much to be praised, since the outcome will be of immense importance for scholars in the field of early drama and theater. 200 Comparative Drama These two volumes represent part of that effort, and in spite of their high price which will make them available only on the reference shelves of libraries, they are without doubt to be regarded as basic tools for the scholar. The concordance to the Chester plays follows the text recently issued in the new EETS edition by R. M. Lumiansky and David Mills, who base their text on the H m manuscript in the Huntington Library. Unfortun ately, because the result would be too cumbersome, they do not print the variant readings listed in the textual notes to this edition; nevertheless, recent dissatisfaction with the Lumiansky-Mills edition (the H m manu script is felt by many to be not the best text) would seem to suggest future expansion of this concordance (a supplementary volume, perhaps?). However, the appendices are available in the data base already included in the Drama Archive at the University of Colorado, and hence more material is actually now at the disposal of scholars than the present Ches ter concordance contains. The KWIC (Key Word in...