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infelicitous rendering into English or a misunderstanding of the MHG text, would double the length of this review. Sadly typical of the work as a whole is one glaring error which requires no knowledge of any foreign language. Although in note 87 to the stage directions before line 1350 West refers to the biblical text of Matt. 27.46, he has failed to read Matt. 27.47; in note 88 to line 1351 he writes “The author adds a touch of realistic irony here” when this is unmistakably a rendering of this next verse. West set out with the admirable purpose of making the drama of medieval German accessible to an English speaking readership. Re­ grettably neither the translation itself nor the accompanying Introduc­ tion can be recommended: the Introduction for its lack of awareness of recent scholarship in this area and the translation for its inaccuracy. JOHN E. TAILBY University of Leeds 90 Comparative Drama Kenneth S. White, ed. Savage Comedy: Structures of Humor. Amster­ dam: Editions Rodopi S. V., 1978 (distributor, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, N. J.). Pp. 63. $9.50. For this incisive collective definition of a much-needed new label in contemporary drama, seven scholars took matters into their own hands. They published the papers of two consecutive MLA seminars on savage comedy. Although each fine essay (it is truly remarkable to find a col­ lection so even in quality) would have been useful published separately, each unmistakably gains from the supportive context. Further, each writer must have felt liberated by the independence of the private ven­ ture, for each essay bears a refreshingly personal stamp. This stylistic fearlessness fits the subject and its examples (e.g., Jarry, Crommelynck, Dürrenmatt, Mrozek, Tardieu, Arrabal, Bond). Readers see by both precept and example that savage comedy is both frank and frankly author-oriented, a self-reflecting distorting mirror, rather than a mirror to life. (Valle-Inclan’s esperpentos come to mind; perhaps they can be taken up in a subsequent seminar.) White’s introductory essays establish the sub-genre with Jarry, clairvoyantly identified by Yeats, who saw one of the first performances of Ubu roi, as a harbinger of the “Savage God.” C. J. Gianakaris, mid­ way in the collection, shows how Artaud’s theories of dramatic purgation carried on the tradition. Bettina Knapp reappraises the work of Fernand Crommelynck—relating his theater of the first three decades of the century to Expressionism, especially in painting. Ernst S. Dick takes up Durrenmatt’s central position in savage comedy. Italian dramatist Mario Fratti introduces his contemporaries who, in his opinion, take savage comedy through the apocalypses of Diirrenmatt or Arrabal to constructive social resolutions. Sylvie Debevec Henning discusses Jean Tardieu to show how grotesque and parodistic comedy can represent technical ploys rather than a philosophical commitment. Gianakaris Reviews 91 uses Mrozek’s Tango as a demonstration case of the theoretical basis and therapeutic potential of savage comedy. His point is that unlike Absurdist plays which provide also a “catharsis of illusions,” savage comedies offer an identifiable socio-historical framework (p. 43). Count­ ering Fratti and Gianakaris, Gautam Dasgupta, whose concluding essay pulls the strands of the definition together, believes that savage comedy is not moral, while Absurdist and grotesque plays are. “In comedy,” Dasgupta maintains, “the value-system honored by the majority wins; in savage comedy, all value-systems become morally inactive” (p. 61). Even when savage comedy employs the grotesque, it does so in a selfenclosed system without any implied humanistic measurement. The playwright’s “allegiance” is to his “obsessive and, at times perverse imagination” (p. 62). Nonetheless, Dasgupta’s final analysis is that stated or implied by all contributors: that in these savage theatrical worlds humor is generated by the breakdown of human laws. Or, we might add, by the exaggerated discrepancy with our) desperately cherished noumenon: the moral universe. MARILYN GADDIS ROSE SUNY-Binghamton Mark S. Auburn. Sheridan’s Comedies: Their Contexts and Achievements. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1977. Pp. ix + 221. $10.95. This is a good book and a welcome one. Unlike Jack D. Durant’s Twayne Sheridan (1975) and John Loftis’ Sheridan and the Drama of Georgian England (1977...


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