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are worthwhile even after John Lough and other recent work in this area. Gossip sees a connection between the increase of female spectators and the consequent change in audience reactions and expectations on one hand, and, on the other, the eclipse of Corneille and his “masculine” plays in favor of Racine’s more personal and “feminine” themes. He also points out the importance of such neglected and seemingly minor details as the physical layout of French seventeenth-century theaters (pp. 20f). These were usually converted “jeu de paume” courts, long and rectangular in shape with a relatively shallow stage. This lopsided box with its severe frontal perspective and whose main tiered seating section could only be against the back wall, furthest from the stage, contrasts with the thrust stage of Shakespeare’s Globe or the more familiar Italian design, fan- or horseshoe-shaped with an overhanging balcony. We all know that the necessity of replacing the candles which illuminated the stage limited the length of acts and thus led to the regularly spaced intermissions of the five-act tragedy. But Gossip adds that the house itself remained lighted during performance. That the lights never “went down” to allow the audience to concentrate on the stage explains in part the rowdy* and boisterous behavior prevalent in the classical “parterre.” While an informal style makes this book easy reading, it does not prevent the author from dealing with his subject intelligently and com­ petently. Footnotes are omitted on principle, but the references made in the text both to seventeenth-century plays and critics as well as to contemporary scholars one would consider essential are complete and perfectly adequate to open up the world of further study to the student. One negative comment must be made even if it mars my otherwise very positive and enthusiastic reaction to this book. Even in today’s inflated market, this book is over-priced, an unfortunate factor that will probably keep it out of precisely those hands it was intended for. Judged on its scholarship and its pedagogical value (and leaving aside financial considerations), C. J. Gossip’s book is a fine manual that could be used in any graduate or undergraduate course on French classical tragedy. Its easy style and unlabored intelligence make it accessible to beginners while its pertinent analyses and informative discussions will repay a reading by advanced students. This is then a book to read, to recommend, and to use in class. 380 Comparative Drama PETER V. CONROY, JR. University of Illinois, Chicago Michael R. Booth. Prefaces to Nineteenth-Century Theatre. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1981. Pp. xii + 241; 5 illustrations. $32.50. Between 1969 and 1976 Michael Booth contributed an important five volume collection of drama entitled English Plays of the Nineteenth Century (Oxford University Press). The first two volumes of this anthology contained plays representative of the nineteenth century, fol­ lowed by single volumes devoted to comedies and farces. The fifth volume provided the reader with nine excellent examples of the largely Reviews 381 ignored genres of pantomime, extravaganza and burlesque. Each volume contained an insightful preface surveying that particular genre’s evolu­ tion and its contributions to subsequent development. Booth’s current volume, Prefaces to Nineteenth-Century Theatre, brings together the introductions from each of the books in his earlier collection. Unfortunately, while each essay remains a useful preface to the dramatic genre it is concerned with, the overall work fails to meet the promise of its title. With the emphasis clearly on the dramatic literature, theatrical context suffers. Missing are treatments of the acting styles which brought these plays to life and detailed examinations of the audiences for which these plays were uniquely appropriate. Similarly, managerial policies as they shifted throughout the nineteenth century could have received more careful explanation. Some of the shortcomings arise out of the decision to publish the prefaces without revision. Acting styles and production techniques were treated in appendices in the original anthology. With the first of the prefaces begun over thirteen years ago, the author acknowledged some need for possible revision in light of the significant advances in nineteenthcentury theatrical scholarship during the ensuing decade. Accordingly, one is left to puzzle over...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 380-381
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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