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Theater critic, dramaturge, and Village Voice staff writer Solomon (English and Theater/City Univ. of New York Graduate Center) offers a fresh, authoritative view of the canon as the seat, not the nemesis, of postmodern gender theory. Solomon pairs close textual readings of gender complexity in Shakespeare, Ibsen, Aristophanes, and Brecht with reviews of avant-garde productions that unleashed what she considers the inherent trangressiveness of these writers' works. While feminist and queer theorists see only a reinforcement of heterosexism and phallocentricity even in the canon's most ribald gender-bending, Solomon sees real subversion—an invitation to question gender norms. In her analysis of the British theater troupe Cheek by Jowl's all-male production of As You Like It, the Mabou Mines role-reversed King Lear (Lear is played by a woman), the Yiddish King Lear, Charles Ludlum's Hedda Gabler, and the Split Britches' deconstructed A Streetcar Named Desire, Solomon sees a proper rediscovery of all the ``polymorphous potential'' endemic to these plays. To Solomon, these iconoclastic productions were neither as inventive nor as disrespectful as we might think. On the contrary, they did justice for the first time to the richness of these classic texts. The crusty greats deserve more credit than we've given them, argues Solomon. They understood quite well, as did the Puritans who banned their art in Cromwell's England, that theater, as imitation, as performance, as self-consciousness, as irony, is tailor-made for revolt against the social shackles, not just of gender, but of class, race, and sexuality. Solomon is convincing and refreshingly nondogmatic. She has the knowledge, style, and suppleness of mind to make bedfellows of revisionists and dead white males. Her dissent is helpful, not dismissive, inclusive, not harsh. This invaluable contribution to the canon wars is rare manna from academia. (12 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 1998

ISBN: 0-415-15720-X

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1997

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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