The Death of Character: Perspectives on Theater after Modernism

By Elinor Fuchs | Go to book overview

2
Pattern over Character
The Modern Mysterium

IN THE PARIS of the 1890s, as Strindberg observed, the Middle Ages seemed to be “coming again to France…. Young men don the monk’s cowl… dream of the monastery, write legends, perform miracle plays, paint madonnas, and model Christs.”1 In theater, medievalism ranged from revivals of religious forms to atmospheric evocations of a remote time out of time. Maurice Bouchor’s charmingly naive mystery plays, performed by the Petit théâtre des marionettes, developed almost a cult following in the early years of the decade.2 In 1893, Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande, set in a mysterious and other-worldly Middle Ages, launched Lugné-Poë’s Théâtre de l’Oeuvre. Mallarmé greeted the work as the “paradigm of the theater of the future.”3

As Strindberg had reason to know, the medieval craze was closely related to the hermetic revival—centered in, but not limited to, Paris—of the last decade and a half of the century. Many interlaced figures, heirs for the most part of the recently-dead great mystic and kabbalist Eliphas Levi, or perhaps converts to the Theosophy of the recently-arrived Mme. Blavatsky, contributed to the occult movement as priests, organizers, and editors. Among avant-garde artists and writers of the symbolist generation, it is no exaggeration to say that “every symbolist was a mystic, more or less a Rosicrucian, an occultist,”4 including French writers as diverse as Jarry5 and Claudel, the Belgian Maurice Maeterlinck, Yeats in Ireland, Micinski in Poland, and Bely in Russia. Hofmannsthal had no clear cult affiliation or attraction, but described himself as a “mystic without a mystique.”6 Strindberg’s journey into the Parisian occult is rendered in Inferno, an account of his experiences of 1894-97, when he gave up playwriting, performed (al)chemical experiments, spiraled into spiritualism, and hoped to become the “Zola of occultism.”7

Turning away from realism, materialism, and positivism, this generation stumbled afresh into the mysterium tremendum, and sought corresponding art forms. Their cry, as Mallarmé wrote in 1887 in the Revue indépendante, was “Remplacez vaudeville pur mystère. ”8 In the theater, “mystery” shortly became a loose designation for any play that regarded human life sub specie aeternitatis, ranging in form from Van Lerberghe’s fable on the coming of death, Les

-36-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Death of Character: Perspectives on Theater after Modernism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Drama and Performance Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I- Modern after Modernism 19
  • 1- The Rise and Fall of the Character Named Character 21
  • 2- Pattern over Character the Modern Mysterium 36
  • 3- Counter-Stagings Ibsen against the Grain 52
  • Part II- Theater after Modernism 67
  • 4- Signaling through the Signs 69
  • 5- Another Version of Pastoral 92
  • 6- When Bad Girls Play Good Theaters 108
  • 7- Theater as Shopping 128
  • 8- Postmodernism and the Scene of Theater 144
  • Reviews and Articles 1979-1993 Reports from an Emerging Culture 159
  • Notes 199
  • Index 218
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 225

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.