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378 Comparative Drama nevertheless has an organic structure which is often lacking in many more “scholarly” books of this kind. The format is therefore stimulating and thought-provoking, even though there is little time for in-depth analyses of plays. Still, within the limitations set by the nature of the series, the material is displayed with confidence and succeeds in arousing interest. Not to be forgotten here are the photographs of key moments in Pirandello’s life as a dramatist—including one which shows the six characters making their stage entrance in the 1923 Pitoeff production of the play, via a large elevator of the kind used to lower and raise props. The story of Pirandello’s initial skepticism about the effectiveness of Pitoeff’s brilliant device for literally dropping the six intruders into the midst of a rehearsal on stage is well-known; but it was a pleasant surprise to see the photograph of that incredible moment, when a director inter­ prets the intention of the playwright even beyond the latter’s own expectations. For some perhaps Ms. Bassnett-McGuire’s book may seem to be an oversimplification of a difficult subject. Pirandello, after all, if we accept Robert Brustein’s statement that he was “the most seminal dramatist of our time,” needs to be viewed as the playwright who destroyed the stage the way Socrates destroyed unexamined life. In that context, Ms. BassnettMcGuire ’s book may fall short of the mark for some readers; but the author’s ordering of ideas—the ideal approach to any dramatic criticism, and especially to playwrights who simply will not fit easily into the tra­ ditional critical mold—makes up for whatever limitations the book may have with respect to lengthy traditional analyses of the plays and ideas. I found myself moving easily in and out of arguments (perhaps partly because I have myself dealt with Pirandello in the same organic format) and found that the ideas could easily be reinforced and underscored with more massive references to the individual plays—something which students certainly should be encouraged to pursue as part of their reading of Pirandello, but something which does not necessarily add to the value of this book. ANNE PAOLUCCI St. John’s University Stanley Weintraub. The Unexpected Shaw: Biographical Approaches to G. B. S. and His Work. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1982. Pp. x + 254. $22.50. The Unexpected Shaw most likely had its origin in Stanley Weintraub’s wish to collect the most important of his numerous miscellaneous articles on Shaw. As a devoted Shavian I had read most of the essays when they had first appeared, in slightly different form (most of the essays have been revised). We can be assured that the essays are now in definitive form. My present reading of these pieces constituted, as it were, a revisit to old friends. Which is to say that they retain their freshness and their pertinence: they are at once scholarly and readable. So Weintraub’s book appeals both to the interested layman and the advanced expert. The adjective “unexpected” in the title of this book is truly appropriate Reviews 379 for Shaw. He retains an “unexpected” aspect even for the reader long familiar with his work, his universe, and his multifarious activities and interests. For some reason I had earlier missed reading “Brogue Shock: Evolution of an Irish Patriot,” and it was somewhat unexpected for me to discover how completely Shaw did become a patriot after the defeat of the Irish insurgents in Dublin on Easter Sunday, 1916. Likewise, I had not read previously the allusively titled “Shaw’s Other Keegan: Sean O’Casey and G. B. S.” It was somewhat unexpected, therefore, to dis­ cover how deeply implicated Shaw had become in the life and fortunes of his fellow Irish playwright, seeing in him the idealist misunderstood by his contemporaries just as Father Keegan was disregarded by his con­ temporaries in John Bull’s Other Island. The adjective “biographical” in the subtitle to the collection is some­ what of a misnomer, if we expect in the book an examination of the events of Shaw’s life and an emphasis upon biographical issues in the usual...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 378-380
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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