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280 Comparative Drama Fagles and Stanford, for example, in the introduction to Fagles’ transla­ tion of the O resteia (1977), assert that the trilogy “celebrates our emergence from darkness into light, from the tribe to the aristocracy to the democratic state” (p. 11); “the shackles of the primitive vendetta lend their rigor to the lasting bonds of law” (p. 14). This optimistic view of the play has a now venerable pedigree, though it has recently come under attack, for example in an important article by Froma Zeitlin, who writes: “the basic issue in the trilogy is the establishment in the face of female resistance of the binding nature of patriarchal marriage where the wife’s subordination and patrilineal succession are reaffirmed” (A rethusa 11, 1978, pp. 149-50). For Rosenmeyer, the terms of the con­ troversy have no relevance to Aeschylus’ practice: “The establishment of the state of law is the termination, but not the goal, much less the theme, of the trilogy. It is as unrelated to the major design of the business that precedes it as a Euripidean epilogue, with its neat disposition of awkwardly dangling threads, is a surprise ending to what comes before” (p. 342; cf. pp. 335-56). This abandonment of a conception of organic or thematic unity in the trilogy has its costs. They might be compensated by a theory of ideological production, like that advanced by Pierre Macherey and Fredric Jameson, according to which the want of unity or coherence in a text is die determinate function of certain kinds of repression, or, alternatively, by some form of deconstructionist reading, but this is not Rosenmeyer’s method. As a result, the ideological interest of the plays largely evanesces. There is, nevertheless, a vigor and originality to Rosenmeyer’s reading of Aeschylus that my teasing out of his critical axioms only inadequately conveys. The richness of the book is in its detail, and that is clearly the product of an intimate and intelligent engagement with the texts. Rosen­ meyer makes heavy demands on the reader’s attention, and his principled refusal to provide individual interpretations of the plays obliges one to read the book through in order to see the argument whole. In the opinion of this reviewer, it is eminently worth it. DAVID KONSTAN W esleyan U n iversity Andrew Kennedy. D ram atic D ialogue: th e D u ologu e o f P ersonal E n­ counter. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Pp. 283. $45.00; paperback, $13.95. In Bernard Shaw’s M an an d Superm an, John Tanner quickly forestalls Mendoza’s attempt to read his love poems by admonishing, “You are sacrificing your career to a monomania.” A similarly salutary warning may have spared many an academic, and his audience, much needless effort. The genial monomania which seems to drive Andrew K. Kennedy is an obsession with “the duologue of personal encounter.” Its significance all but overwhelms him: he sees in it a key with which to unlock the treasures of world drama. Like all infatuates, he is amazed that others do not share his infatuation: although his own example, in this book, scarcely calls in question the acumen of those who have remained Reviews 281 unmoved. Faith in the importance of the duologue of personal encounter impels him through world drama from Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euri­ pides, through Anglo-American drama to an excited cessation with Sam Shepard. In any such survey, omissions are inevitable: even so, Kennedy’s are striking and, we later will see, instructive. No Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, Moliere or Shaw among the major comedians; no Corneille, Racine, Schiller, von Kleist among the tragedians. Even so, one feels that a key which is intended to unlock as many doors as the author claims is lacking in essential discriminations. A concern with “personal en­ counter” is not likely to be of much use in assessing dramas that are concerned with much larger realities—the exploration of our whole experienced world, for example—so that major writers are likely to come off less well than minor ones. This is, in fact, confirmed from a reading of the book where the discussion of writers such...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 280-285
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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