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Document Creation Date: 
December 16, 2016
Document Release Date: 
October 29, 2004
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Publication Date: 
January 1, 1966
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PDF icon CIA-RDP88-01365R000300060007-4.pdf77.18 KB
PARTISAN REVIEW ~, L~ -~/, Approved For Release 200~,CDP8.8-0136580003 0060007-4 " Danton's Death is, almost certainly, the greatest first play ? ever written. In it Buchner examines the political foundations of private sentiments; he defines the "epic" conditions of "absurdist" attitudes. No classical play is more relevant to the contemporary theatrical situa- ' lion, and it is obvious enough why Buchner is the only playwright j since Sh k h B ! a espeare w om recht and Ionesco hold in equal esteem. It is all the more distressing, therefore, that the Lincoln Center's produc- e ~ lion of Danton's Death should be so wrongheaded in its literary assump- ,~ions and in its theatrical techniques. Wishing to emphasize the political aspects of the play and to claim it for his Theater of Protest, Blau tampers with the text. While Buchner opens .the play in a private drawing room where Denton impresses upon".his wife the impossibility '~. of "knowing" another human being, Blau establishes an entirely d'if- ferent tone by staging a pantomime of public entrapment against a set whose vanishing points imply "infinite" space. A similar distortion is achieved by omitting Danton's bitter, apolitical jest on the guillotine. 4 Bleu's murky, gratuitous translation is as damaging as his wanton cut- j ling. One of its faults is to blur the distinction between the public rhetoric, often reminiscent of Schiller's,. that characterizes the Jacobins, :.and the coarse, metaphorically daring idiom of Denton. The allusion to Schiller is important. Like Brecht, Buchner wishes to set his own ` I~istorical materialism against Schiller's transcendental idealism. He op- poses his own realistic sense of necessity (Woyzeck pisses in the street) to Schiller's moral cant about freedom (the Doctor proves to W.oyzeck that the musculus constrictor vesicae is subject to the will). Buchner detests those "so-called Idealist poets who give us nothing more than ` ,, ~ wilj vindicate, no Maria Stuart experiencing the sublime and triumphing. i d h A h to observe, then, that Denton is no Posa, dyuig for ideals that history . marionettes with sky-blue noses and affected pathos." It is important n eat . int of this in the program would have been more to the ' point than $lau s effort to launciY a crusade against President Johnson. Danton's "What is it in us-that lies, whores; steals and murdersP" is not ; but his company is intolerable, The .revolution ! at Lincoln .Center ie I betrayed. 'and' thA nu~11?*:ne :. fi,e ...,i.. -..~ ..:_.. the Fatalismus der t;eschichte are, in any case, very shaky foundations ~~ for a program of political action. Bleu's tendentiousness is objectionable,'i~ ~' . Massacres.) Danton's boredom, his longing for death and his sense of +...a`a~ w uwlGtlU LULU I.VilS I momentary attempt to evade his -e+~w+~i~ify for the bloody September ! Approved For Release 2005/01/13 :CIA-RDP88-013658000300060007-4