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REVIEWS Jackson I. Cope. Dramaturgy of the Daemonic. Studies in Antigeneric Theater from Ruzante to Grimaldi. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984. Pp. xiv 4- 166. $20.00. Jackson Cope is an erudite magpie, but also a comparatist of “con­ nections”; he tells the personal story of a time long ago when he was living “in isolation in a village above Florence with a library of English dramatists and Florentine Platonists, making up a book about the con­ nections” he imagined between them (p. 122). Here he has collected eight of his essays from twenty years, with two of them new, and strung them on a slender thread of connections he has risked naming “daemonic dramaturgy.” Let it be said at the outset that these essays are as discursive as their unconventional and rather misleading title implies. “From Ruzante to Grimaldi” is a time-span, although it may well catch the pleasure Jackson Cope has taken in picking about in English and Italian renaissance and neo-classical drama. He explains his collection as a “bozza,” “a sketchbook toward a history of dramatic continuity which I would wish to write if I could read enough” (p. ix); but it is really a sketchbook in which he enjoys himself rummaging among plays of special challenge and perversity with the help of his prodigious reading apparatus. He sees the development of drama as “a series of antitheses to its own self-generated norms, its genres” (p. 3). In this prophetic mode he deals only in comedy and comedians, and leaves his reader to fashion the connections a comparatist might desire for himself. For the connections are chiefly in the author’s head, and the book as a book is a very difficult read indeed. As a book the chapters fly off in tangents, but as a collection there is not one essay that does not stimulate and justify the Johns Hopkins Press in its production. They are unfashionably unconcerned with per­ formance, but refreshingly eccentric in keeping the concept of an irreve­ rent Harlequin and the lively nursery of the commedia dell’arte at the centre. They flirt with the great unknowns of the mythical and folk elements in drama and look benignly on the vogue names in anthropo­ logical criticism (Barber and Weimann for Shakespeare, Toschi and Ortolani for the Italian comedy and Goldoni), throwing up a hundred and one notions by which dramatic literature has been touched by deep-rooted community traditions. They are drawn to the “mirrored corridors in which art and reality continually reflect one another” (p. 144), and particularly relish the naughty element of burlesque wherever it pops up—in The Old Wives Tale, in Dido, Queen of Carthage, in Farquhar’s The Constant Couple—for parody and burlesque suggest that the stage and the drama are self-consciously alive most of the time to what they are about. 373 374 Comparative Drama The survey of Beolco/Ruzanti’s plays and their qualities of realism and violence will, I suspect, not surprise the Italianists, but biographical material on the clown Joe Grimaldi, the “English Joey” of the early nineteenth century, and a man of “daemonic energy,” will surely fascinate the reader. An attempt to resurrect the possible dramatic attributions to the Tudor playwrigjht Richard Edwards (on the recommendation of Francis Meres as being among “the best for comedy”) is worthily done when measured “against the dreary moralities, translations, and slapstick which are the norm of our dramatic heritage through the sixities” (p. 49). The Old Wives Tale comes up fresh again in a discussion of its structural cohesiveness as “a masterpiece of plotting” (p. 50), together with specu­ lation about its role as “a touring text.” The Dido paper makes a curious assumption about the physical size of the boy actor playing Aeneas who, it is thought, must have been smaller than his lover Dido, an uncomfort­ able basis for finding comedy in the play; nor do I believe that Cupid periodically jabs his golden arrow into Dido’s paps. Profanity and absurdity are sought out in Bartholomew Fair, with Jonson named as “a daemon plotter gone mad” (p. 72) because of his apparent creation...


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