Approach to Shakespeare. By D. A. Traversi. (Paladin Press, 6s.)
MR TRAVERSI'S aim—we read on the jacket— is " to carry us back to the plays" from wherever we may have wandered, following other modern authors whose "irrelevant speculations
• . carry us away from. the plays." There is some truth in this idea of being carried hither and thither by the busy critics, while we cling desperately to the plays so as not to be swept away from them on the flood of Shakespearian literature. Yet, if we choose our critic wen—Dover Wilson, Granville Barker, M. R. Ridley, Quiller-Couch--we on the contrary, find ourselves watching the plays with new interest, and in no danger of being carried away from them.
Still, Mr Traversi has made a sound contribution to the literature he would save us from, in this study of the great dramatist's language and imagery. Whether he is so sound on the personal experience, which these seem to reflect,
is not evident, On this question, he tends to argue in a circle. For instance, Macbeth, we are told, "represents in many ways a crucial stage in Shakespeare's development, a stage naturally reflected in further subtleties of technique." But it is only from the "subtleties of technique" that one can deduce • the crucial stage (in what exactly this consisted is nowhere said]: it is not very enlightening, therefore, to premise the crucial stage and then make it reflect naturally the only hint we have that it existed at all!
THIS constant reference to Shakespeare's personal experience in an explanation of the very plays without which we know nothing about it, and can only conjecture more or less inaccurately, has an irritating effect on the reader and robs him of the calm and docile state of mind which is essential to following this somewhat Continued ir next column.