Dictionary of World Literature: Criticism, Forms, Technique

By Joseph T. Shipley | Go to book overview

dactyl. Pros. A foot (q.v.). One long syllable followed by two short, --˘ ˘ e.g. swimmingly; Longfellow, Evangeline. Dactylic hexameter is used in classical epic; in Eng., most frequent as a variant.

Dadaism. School of art and literature dating from ca. 1917, characterized by the effort to suppress ordinary logical relationships between thought and expression. In general, it conceived of its major function as destructive of every thing tending to hamper absolute freedom and spontaneity of form and content in art, and it used violent humor and devastating irony as means to this end. Tristan Tzara was prominent in the origin of the movement, which developed, ca. 1924, into Surrealism. G.R.H.

daina. A form of folk poetry common to the Lithuanians and Latvians. Probably composed by the women; they deal in a simple form with all aspects of life and the relations of the people toward nature and superstition, with traces of the old paganism. Rhyme is present but not compulsory; the prevailing metre, in accordance with the accentual laws of the language, is either trochaic or dactylic. The Latvian daina is four lines, although some may be joined to produce a larger song. They are usually accompanied on the kanklys, a peasant harp. Uriah Katzenelenbogen , The Daina, 1935. C.A.M.

DANCE, MODERN. A many-sided artistic movement in America and Germany embodying 3 main demands: (1) that the design of the dance be re-rooted in total human experience and spontaneous feelings or drives (celebration, lamentation, irony); (2) that individual self-expression be conceived in functional relation to masses--choruses of human beings and a resistant space; (3) that the dance be re-established as a serious and independent art, with a technique rebuilt on a fresh analysis of motion, rhythm, space, and the psyche. Inspirations to it have been various: Greek vase painting and choric art; the philosophy of Nietzsche; but most of all, a general artistic revolt ca. 1900 against stale formulas and toward expressionism. The Am. Isadora Duncan ( 1878- 1927), was the first eloquently to repudiate the academic formalism of the classical ballet, and to proclaim and illustrate the lyric power and grace of a freely moving natural body, and a flowing sequence of controlled gestures emanating from a central impetus and soul. In G. the pioneer was the Hungarian Rudolf von Laban (b. 1879) who had been influenced in youth by contact with Oriental thought and the ceremonies of dancing dervishes. Laban produced a theory of the dance, half a mechanics or grammar of motion, based on anatomy and crystallography, and half a mystical philosophy of the total human being, his language and place in the cosmos. For Laban the dance is a sequence of gestures rounded into an artistic whole, gestures being compounded of tension and release These require an appropriate medium, a responsive and interacting space. In contrast with the indifferent background of the ballerina, the space surrounding the modern dancer becomes a plastic partner symbolizing the hostile or friendly intention of the environment. This theory of movement, space, and spirit, somewhat modified, was taught by Mary Wigman (b. 1886) at Dresden and demonstrated on tours in America. Hanya Holm, Wigman's assistant, has permanently established herself in the U. S. and has subjected the ideas and methods to Am. rhythms and materials. The Jooss Ballet (its masterpiece the ironic picture of a peace conference, The Green Table) also stems in part from Laban.

In Am. after Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis (b. 1880) fertilized the new growth with Oriental spirit (the authentic dance forms of the Orient are made part of the western heritage by La Meri; cf. also her book, The Gesture Language of the Hindu Dance, 1942), and her husband, Ted Shawn (b. 1891), with masculine force. From 'Denishawn' came Martha Graham, perhaps the chief Am. exponent of the modern dance. In her maturity she has enriched the dance with original gesture modes, at first defiantly stark and percussive, later merely economical and direct. For material she has used American legends with striking effect; her Letter to the World based on poems of Emily Dickinson is perhaps the greatest work of art

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Dictionary of World Literature: Criticism, Forms, Technique
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • ADVISERS and CONTRIBUTORS vii
  • SUGGESTIVE LIST OF ASSOCIATED TOPICS xi
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • A 1
  • B 63
  • C 82
  • D 145
  • E 182
  • F 229
  • G 277
  • H 296
  • I 310
  • J 339
  • K 346
  • L 347
  • M 365
  • N 394
  • Q 468
  • S 500
  • T 572
  • U 599
  • W 619
  • Y 631
  • Z 633
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