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genuine American drama in our time. The chapter hopefully concludes: "The American playwright has developed the beginnings of a great drama, of an American drama of sincerity. He has touched on the surface outcroppings of the rich mine of native material; but he has not as yet worked with the exquisite balance of poet and dramatic craftsman-with high purpose and the sense of inner beauty. One need not stretch the imagination too far to see emerging out of the future the man of wide vision, the poet who yet is the perfect technician, who will weave the material of the time into a gripping story, at the same time revealing the beauty of his own imagination. . .
. . .
A book which I should like to see sell in the millions of copies in the United States is Professor Richard Burton's How to See a Play. I mean this statement explicitly. This book was published last year when the author was president of the most constructively-minded body of playgoers and students of the drama and the theatre to be found anywhere in the world,—the Drama League of America. It was the best possible service he could render as the head of that organization; and for the precise reasons stated in the preface: "This book is aimed squarely at the theatregoer. It hopes to offer a concise general treatment upon the use of the theatre, so that the person in the seat may get the most for his money; may choose his entertainment wisely, avoid that which is not worth while, and appreciate the values artistic and intellectual of what he is seeing and hearing." It sets forth in simple and interesting fashion the underlying principles and fundamental standards of drama and its judgment in the theatre. Intelligently read by the average playgoer, it should establish in his or her mind proper criteria for judging a play; and after all that is one of the big, fundamental problems to be solved in America. The unpretentious title seems to have resulted in concealing from popular view the undoubted value and utility of the book as a hand-book of common-sense instruction for the average playgoer. Unlike most books about the drama, it is so clear that anybody can understand it. If every theatregoer in the United States were to read it and act upon
*The Macmillan Co. New York. 1914.
its precepts, the drama in this country, I do not for a moment doubt, would exhibit a marked and appreciable improvement.
From time to time there appears in The Independent a new interpretative essay in the series projected by the literary editor of that magazine, Dr. Edwin E. Slosson. Six of these essays, chosen by the author because he thought he would be most likely to interest others in the men who had most interested him, Maeterlinck, Bergson, Poincaré, Metchnikoff, Ostwald, and Haeckel, have now been collected together in a compact volume under the title: Major Prophets of To-day.* The author has formed personal acquaintance not only with the works of each of these men but also with the men themselves. The impressive marks of this personal association are happily and effectively stamped upon the essays, which are thoughtful, serious, and unusually broad in their generalized knowledge. Dr. Slosson has succeeded rarely well in bringing to light and rendering fully intelligible the leading ideas and principal contributions to modern philosophy, science, and thought of these conspicuous international figures. In the interesting essay on Maeterlinck he observes: "It is curious that a man who is so modernistic in mind and who has shown so unique a power to idealize the prosaic details of the life of to-day, should place all his dramas in the historical or legendary past. But he always views the past as a poet, not as an archaeologist, giving merely some beautiful names and a suggestion as to scene setting, and leaving it to the imagination of the reader to do the stage carpentering." And again, he pertinently discloses the deeper secret of Maeterlinck's strength: "As a mystic philosopher Maeterlinck finds a flower in a crannied wall sufficient to give him a clue to the secrets of the universe. Modern science, instead of killing mysticism, as was foreboded by despairing poets of the last century, has brought about a revival if it. . . Maeterlinck,
being of the generation born since the dawn of the scientific era, entered upon the inheritance of its wealth without having to pass through any storm and stress period to acquire it. No traces of the fretful antagonisms of the nineteenth century dis
*Little, Brown & Co. Boston, Mass. 1914.
turb the equanimity of his essays. He sees no conflict between the scientific and poetic views of the world. He looks upon it with both eyes open and the two visions fuse into one solid reality."
In connection with the attitude of the modern critic towards the drama, a great stimulation is afforded by the monograph, The Shifting of Literary Values,* by Mr. Albert Mordell. The author, in his own words, "has undertaken to establish that changes in morality must affect literary values, that some of the classics idealize views of life now obsolete, that these books are therefore responsible for the existence of some of our moral and intellectual stagnancy, and that a new critical outlook upon them is called for." The ideas thus succinctly stated are elucidated in this notable critical study with exceptional force and vigor. These ideas are implicit in much of the thinking of the modern generation of critics and philosophers; and here and there, throughout the writings of men of the stamp of Nietzsche and Shaw, for example, are scattered more or less direct enumerations, of a fragmentary character, of these same ideas. But no other writer, so far as I can recall, has outlined them in so concrete and explicit form, and in a single work, as has Mr. Mordell. Certain of these modern critical ideas I have called attention to at one time or another during the past five or six years. The monograph of Mr. Mordell has impressed me as a highly original and valuable critical study. My own indebtedness to it-although I disagree with Mr. Mordell in certain fundamental points-is embodied in some passages in The Changing Drama. In an essay in the North American Review some six or seven years ago I took occasion to point out that there will be a transvaluation of values from time to time, probably eventuating in the successive re-handling of the heroes of classical antiquity in the drama from the modern point of view. Dramas written. since that time would seem to support this suggestion. The fundamental ideas set forth in Mr. Mordell's monograph are embodied, to a considerable extent, in Shaw's remarkable essay: "A Degenerate's View of Nordau." The passage from
*The International. Philadelphia, Pa. 1912.
Nietzsche which Mr. Mordell quotes might serve as the text of the monograph: "It is not without deep pain that we acknowledge the fact that in their loftiest soarings, artists of all ages have exalted and divinely transfigured precisely those ideas which we now recognize as false; they are the glorifiers of humanity's religious and philosophical errors; and they could not have been this without belief in the absolute truth of these errors.
A most commendable undertaking is the publication in a single volume of a careful selection of representative modern plays, edited by Thomas H. Dickinson, associate professor of English in the University of Wisconsin, and entitled Chief Contemporary Dramatists. Modern dramatic art is represented with respectable completeness. There is something both absurd and unfortunate in the omission, for whatever cause, of a work by Ibsen, Shaw, Barrie, Rostand, D'Annunzio, Giacosa, for example; but it is unquestionable that the selection, in a number of instances, was conditioned by purely practical considerations of suitability, of excellence, and of copyright. A very useful book-though its usefulness is very little enhanced by the quite misleading and inadequate lists at the end. This book should be used by students of the contemporary drama in conjunction with the admirable bibliographies in Modern Drama and Opera. For only a few dollars it is now feasible for the average American to take a limited survey of the contemporary drama. The publication of this book for the first time makes this desirable consummation a reality. A list of representative modern plays, a trustworthy work of criticism on the contemporary drama, and a series of adequate bibliographies-what more, to begin with, should any beginner in the study of the contemporary drama desire?
University of North Carolina.
* Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, Mass. 1915.
SHINTOISM AND THE JAPANESE NATION
In its essence Shinto' is strictly indigenous to the soil of Japan. It is first of all a system of ancestor worship.' Shinto, which means literally "the ways of the gods," is the name given to the mythology' and ancestor and nature worship. "The floating legends, local traditions, and religious ideas of the aborigines, gathered up, amplified by the dominant race, transferred and made coherent by the dogmatics of theocracy, became the basis of Shinto, upon which a modified Chinese cosmogony and abstract philosophical ideas were afterward grafted." The chief features of the faith are the worship of ancestors and the deification of emperors, heroes, and scholars. The adoration of personified forces of nature enters largely into it. According to Shinto doctrine, ancestors are not thought of as dead; they are believed to remain among those who loved them. Unseen they guard the home and watch over the welfare of descendants. Hirata, the well-known expounder of Shinto, writes: "The spirits of the dead continue to exist in the unseen world, which is everywhere about us; and they all become gods of varying characters and degrees of influence. Some reside in temples built in their honor; others hover near their tombs; and they continue to render service to the prince, parents, wives and children, as when in body." The illuminating words of professor Hozumi, of the Imperial University in Tokyo, who is proud of being a Shintoist, are worthy of notice: "We firmly believe that our ancestors, other than their bodies, do not die.
The authoritative writings on Shinto in English are: W. G. Aston, Shinto; Ernst Satow, "The Revival of Pure Shinto" (Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Japan, 1874); P. Kemperman, "Shinto" (Japan Mail, August 26, 1874); Lafcadio Hearn, Japan, chapters 3-9 and 17.
'Many writers like Aston and Knox hold that ancestor worship was not original in Shinto, but came from China at an early date.
The whole mythology is contained in two books. The oldest is entitled "Ko-ji-ki," or "Records of Ancient Matters"; and it is supposed to have been compiled in the year 712 A.D. The other and much larger work is called "Nihongi," or "Chronicles of Japan," and dates from about 720 A. D. 'W. E. Griffis, The Mikado's Empire, p. 88.