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394 Comparative Drama at least some of the traits of the “Franciscan” left-wing nominalism that he sees as distinct from Chester (pp. 169-70). Chapter 7 is an impressive attempt to account for Chester’s unique inclusion of the Creed in the Pentecost pageant. Yet Travis’ rather rigorous insistence that Chester dramatizes all the articles of the Creed (which depends upon several highly discrete readings of individual scenes) is at least partly belied by his acknowledgement that this “credal design,” so subtle as to have been observed by only the most perceptive in the audience, is the “semi-private triumph” of a most “ingenious” dramatist (p. 220). Though some might argue it is Travis, rather than the drama­ tist, whose ingenuity is on display here, he nevertheless faces directly the vexing questions his interpretation raises: to what extent can we assume the presence of sophisticated structural and thematic designs in a drama “normally understood to be public, propagandistic, and ‘naive’ ” (p. 221)? what purpose did such designs serve? by what critical norms do we approach their analysis and description? Since Dramatic Design in the Chester Cycle is, for the moment, unique in its field, the burden of this review has been to describe its content in detail. The book shows Travis comfortable with the major approaches and interpretive techniques now current in medieval drama studies. Whether discussing historical records or theology, iconography or philosophy, style and meter or popular spirituality, he remains in control of his immediate subject and his literary text. The individual chapters, all carefully formulated essays in their own right, build steadily toward a conclusion that never loses sight of the self-contained arguments on which it is based. The book is well-written and highly readable; it is conversant with recent scholarship, yet its notes are never burdensome. These two features should extend the range of its audience and its appeal to include advanced students as well as scholars of medieval drama. Dramatic Design in the Chester Cycle is going to be an influential book, one that readers will turn to not only for its unparallelled discus­ sion of the Chester plays but for its methodological insights and its keen analysis of the historical and aesthetic principles of medieval English drama. It will be read and remembered as a work of scholarship that treats its subject with rigor and erudition as well as affection and respect. THERESA COLETTI University of Maryland Leonard C. Pronko. Eugène Labiche and Georges Feydeau. New York: Grove Press, 1982. Pp. ix + 181. 11 illus. Paperback $9.95. In this book, Pronko traces the careers and describes the major works of two dramatists who justifiably may be ranked among the finest French writers of comedy since Molière. Together but sequentially, they were the prime entertainers of middle-class audiences in Paris from the mid­ nineteenth century until the first World War. Once dismissed as mere farceurs, their reputations and the popularity of their plays have steadily grown since World War II. But such is critical prejudice against farce Reviews 395 that there is still no work in English devoted entirely to Labiche. Feydeau has fared better (probably because his plays are more popular with English-speaking audiences), two books in English about him (one by Pronko and the other by Stuart Baker) having been published since 1975. The present volume marks another step toward balancing the critical scales. In a book of this length, these two authors cannot be treated in depth. Labiche wrote 175 plays and Feydeau about 45. Obviously, Pronko has had to be selective in his treatment, but he captures the flavor of each dramatist through his perceptive discussions of representative works. Pronko’s study (published as one volume in the “Grove Press Modern Dramatists” series) is divided into ten chapters. The first provides a general overview of the nineteenth century and the ways in which political changes affected social class, audience taste, and theatrical fare. The second chapter places Labiche solidly within the milieu of the Second Empire, into which he fitted comfortably as a representative member of the bourgeoisie about and for whom he wrote. One chapter is devoted to Labiche’s early works...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 394-396
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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