SINGULARITIES: Essays on the Theater, 1964-1974 by John Simon

SINGULARITIES: Essays on the Theater, 1964-1974

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This book covers ten years of Simon's think pieces (as opposed to reviews, see below). John Simon's career answers the question, where, in a mass-cult society, can the overeducated go? As highbrow critic and watchdog of his fellow theatrical watchdogs, his is indeed an embattled position. He explains here that he is motivated by a certainty that the Judgment of History will honor him, while washing his crowd-pleasing fellows down the drain. He is vain and righteous about his place in the cultural afterlife, which detracts from the pleasure of his intelligent company. He expostulates on the quality of ""charm,"" all the while permitting himself an egregious boorishness. Yet his knowledge of both textual and production values is unassailable and one can't quibble, despite his emphasis on the critic's subjectivity, over what Simon knows he likes--whether Ibsen, Brecht and Kraus or the criticism of Shaw and Beerbohm. Or what he doesn't like, from Papas to Papp to pap. His slaps at various experimental companies are convincing, and who would gainsay the mediocrity of the Pulitzer? He includes an all-purpose response to his ""hatelom"" correspondents, as well as a defense of ""getting personal"" in his columns, especially about the ""aesthetics"" of the actor's looks. But all these wherefores have more sting than bite--the review's the thing. . .

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1975
Publisher: Random House