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390 Comparative Drama Kazantzakis’s concept of God—initially deceptively traditional, and then shifting back and forth—soon develops into an evolutionary concept tempered by the Bergsonian élan vital in Nature, as God behaves irra­ tionally, or amorally, or both, and thus challenges and frustrates man (i.e., Lot) in his agonized struggle to comprehend and to come to terms with his Maker and Master. Despite its major or minor flaws as a piece for the stage, Sodom and Gomorrah is quite impressive in its dramatiza­ tion of honest Lot’s efforts to be, in the first place, and to remain, a man of God, a follower of an inscrutable and whimsical Force in the cosmos, which sets traps (the original killing of the King’s small boy, and the incestuous involvement with his daughters later on) during a life of blind obedience and submission to its indifferent will. Lot can’t forgive God for having made him a sinner and a criminal at will, thus violating his conscience, sense of freedom, and sense of responsibility for his life and actions. Too honest to accept “salvation” from the conflagration on this “God’s” terms—to follow Abraham like a sheep in his flock—Lot braves and challenges God as he asserts his independence from and opposition to Him. “Who is greater, God who is deathless, or this worm, man, who rides on the sea and air, changes the course of the waters, tames the wild beasts, turns the works of God upside down, and dies? I am that worm, Lord! Kill me ! I am Sodom and Gomorrah! Bum me to ashes!” exclaims this Promethean Lot tragically concluding that God “is not just, He is not good, He is only Almighty. Almighty, but He is Nothing else!” (p. 89), refusing to continue being a pawn in this absurd God’s hands. This reminds me of Dr. Rieux’s similar refusal to accept Father Paneloux ’s interpretation of the absurd death of an innocent child as “the will of God,” in The Plague (1947) of Albert Camus, who, incidentally, was an admirer of Kazantzakis. For all their shortcomings as specimens of modern drama, Comedy plus Sodom and Gomorrah remain two bold, pioneering, and honest testimonies to their author’s, and to man’s, existential Angst at the meaninglessness, at the absurdity, of mankind’s long and passive de­ pendence on Something that does not exist; or, at least, on Something that is not what it has traditionally been supposed to be. M. BYRON RAIZIS University of Athens Peter W. Travis. Dramatic Design in the Chester Cycle. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1982. Pp. xv + 310. $20.00. Since Dramatic Design in the Chester Cycle is the first book ever to offer a thorough and detailed study of a single Corpus Christi cycle, its appearance marks something of an event in the critical annals of English drama. But it is Professor Travis’ handling of the task he sets for himself, rather than the task itself, that more appropriately distinguishes this study. Here he undertakes “both a theoretical analysis as well as a ‘close reading’ ” (p. xii) of the entire Chester cycle, balancing a con­ sideration of its sequential dramatization of Christian history with an Reviews 391 understanding of the theological, historical, and aesthetic precepts that lend to Chester its unique and highly specific “dramatic design.” The first two chapters locate the Chester cycle in its cultural and historical milieu. In Chapter 1, Travis discusses Corpus Christi drama in relation to other modes of Eucharistic celebration—the Roman Mass, the Feast of Corpus Christi, and the Corpus Christi procession—in order to determine the Corpus Christi play’s filiations with similar “formal, sacred actions realized in human performance” (p. 3), and to isolate the qualities that made it distinctive as drama. Locating these modes of sacred action in the “late medieval propensity to secularize the sacred, [and] the closely related tendency to sacralize the secular” (p. 3), Travis reads in these ceremonial, ritual, and dramatic forms a common desire to actualize sacred metaphor and to render the “symbolically opaque” by historical literalization. Thus, for their participants and observers, Corpus Christi activities reach...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 390-394
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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