French Studies, Vol. 00,No. 0, 1–0 REVIEW Le Scandale au the´aˆtre des anne´es 1940 aux anne´es 1960. Par DELPHINE AEBI. (Litte´rature de notre sie`cle, 63.) Paris: Honore´ Champion, 2017. 421 pp. The Introduction of Delphine Aebi’s detailed and wide-ranging volume asserts privileged connections between theatre and scandal, claiming France as a national ‘terrain de pre´dilection’ for scandal (p. 16). The book addresses an extensive corpus of plays written between 1940 and 1970, and presents an at times overwhelming breadth of thematic manifestations of scandal that move swiftly across chains of connections and across authors. Whilst there is some brief engagement with the work of Michel Corvin and Natalie Heinich on scandal (see Corvin and others, Genet (Paris: Verdier, 2006)and Heinich, ‘The Art of Scandal: Aesthetic Indignation and Sociology of Values’, Politix, 71 (2005), 121–36), Aebi’s approach resists speciﬁc deﬁnitions of scandal as either negative moral discourse or as necessary component of modernity. The three parts of the book focus respectively on the authors’ use of scandal as a means of provoking a response from an audience, scandal as accommodating narratives of conﬂict between author and audience, and scandal as a regulatory force in the face of societal instability. The chapters include wel- come analyses of plays by relatively neglected authors of this period, including Fernando Arrabal, Marcel Ayme´, Michel de Ghelderode, and Henry de Montherlant. Given the his- torical period addressed it is surprising nevertheless to ﬁnd little consideration of the scandal created by the multiple challenges of the nouveau th´a eˆtre and its legacies to the formal and narrative conventions of theatre and performance, with limited space allocated to Beckett, Artaud, and Brecht. Genet’s work and authorial identity is present in discussion throughout and read largely through Sartre on Genet. The careful analysis seems at times to suggest an unmediated relationship between author (as exceptional ﬁgure) and audience that privileges the written text, yet this is mitigated by Aebi’s detailed and coherent presenta- tion of the critical reception of the plays discussed. The book’s diverse thematic foci remain impressive even as the number of areas covered within chapters sometimes precludes detailed contextualization of the speciﬁc socio-political contexts in which these scandals are generated. Nor is there critique of the presentation of a form or trope (for example, dance, jazz, and prostitution) as inherently subversive or scandalous. The book delivers engaging and illuminating analysis of the frameworks of censorship in play in this period and a pertinent exposition of the ever-present potential for the social and institutional recuperation of oppositional discourse. It includes compelling analysis of scandal as spatial transgression, of the presence of contestatory voices within the plays and of the texts’ own mise en abyme of their anticipated, scandalized reception. The Conclusion asserts the study’s open ‘pense´e en cheminement’ (p. 395) in relation to the deﬁnition and function of scandal in theatre, yet makes the provocative proposal that the critique of power present in the works of the authors discussed in the volume can be seen as the last example to date of original political theatre. JULIA DOBSON doi:10.1093/fs/kny084 UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD # The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: email@example.com Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/fs/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/fs/kny084/4995859 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 08 June 2018
French Studies – Oxford University Press
Published: May 14, 2018
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