Review by Choice Review
Much more comprehensive than Charles A. Carpenter's Modern British Drama (1979) or his Modern Drama: Scholarship and Criticism, 1966-1980 (CH, Oct'86), Demastes's books (one coauthored with Kelly) are comprehensive biobibliographical treatments of recognized playwrights from two periods in British drama. Each consists of essays on each of the playwrights arranged in alphabetical rather than chronological order, a select bibliography, indexes of names and titles, and a roster of editors and contributors. Signed essays include a biographical overview, selected sources, a listing of the playwright's canon and its reception or revival, adaptations or productions, assessment of the playwright's career with references to other published evaluations, archival sources, bibliographies of primary and secondary sources, and other bibliographies. The biographical sketches, descriptions of theatrical reception, and assessments of playwrights' careers are very informative, and the sections on archival sources are welcome. British Playwrights, 1880-1956 treats 32 playwrights, including women and "writers from the provinces," from 1880, "the onset of the 'new' or 'modern' drama in small, coterie theaters" to 1956, when " a surge of postwar dramatic energy [was] afforded ... by state patronage." The preface is by Kelly. British Playwrights, 1956-1995 treats 36 recognized playwrights beginning with the "revolutionary moment"--the publication of Waiting for Godot. The preface is by Demastes. Both titles are recommended for college and university libraries. P. Kujoory; University of the District of Columbia
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Taken as a set, these two new volumes supplement British Playwrights, 1956-1995 (Greenwood, 1996), edited by Demastes (English, Louisiana State Univ.), to form an excellent critical overview of regional drama in this century. The British edition features ten to 15-page essays on 40 writers active during the period, both famous (Auden) and forgotten (William Archer). The uniformly well-written essays each include biographical data, summaries of the critical reception of all works, assessments of the playwrights' careers, primary and secondary bibliographies, and the housings of unpublished archival material. Generally, this is a welcome addition to literature and theatrical collections that already own Stanley Weintraub's two-volume Modern British Dramatists, 1900-1945 (Gale, 1982). The Irish volume parallels the British one in format and quality, covering 32 major and minor playwrights throughout the century. Librarians should note, however, that essays on Wilde and Bernard Shaw appear in both sets, although by different authors who each offer useful information and assessments. Whereas 18 of these writers are lumped together in either the Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) 10 (the Weintraub work cited above) or DLB 13 (Weintraub's British Dramatists Since World War II, Gale, 1982), another 14 have yet to appear in any DLB series. As there is no comparable current volume in print specifically on Irish playwrights, Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995 would make a first-rate addition for all collections. Both volumes under review are highly recommended.Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., Tex. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.