An imaginative tour de force, Starfall consists of three dramatic dialogues among real people in imagined settings. Anchoring each of the dialogues is the great Russian film director and theoretician Sergei Eisenstein, whose artistic theories (in all their formations and reformations) run throughout the book, illustrating the influences that ...
An imaginative tour de force, Starfall consists of three dramatic dialogues among real people in imagined settings. Anchoring each of the dialogues is the great Russian film director and theoretician Sergei Eisenstein, whose artistic theories (in all their formations and reformations) run throughout the book, illustrating the influences that affected the Soviet art world in the period between the two world wars. In "The Aquarians" Eisenstein meets Bertolt Brecht in the first-class compartment of a train heading from Berlin to Moscow in 1932. They spend the night discussing and arguing about everything from the use of Renaissance magic in art to"some kind of Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk", in which everything in art is connected. "The Sorcerer's Apprentices" takes place at a meeting held in Moscow on April 14, 1935, on the occasion of performances given during a visit by a noted Chinese actor, Mei Lan-Fang, and his troupe, the prime representatives of early twentieth-century "classical" Chinese theater. Conceived as a series of speeches by noted members of the Soviet theater and film circles (Eisenstein again), "The Sorcerer's Apprentices" contrasts the Russian theater with that of the Chinese, the German (antifascist, emigre theater of Brecht and Erwin Piscator), and even the avant-garde British drama (as represented by Gordon Craig). "Ash Wednesday" has Eisenstein engaged in a dialogue with Mikhail Bakhtin. They speak about German culture -- in particular Eisenstein's desire to stage Wagner's The Valkyrie, which Bakhtin appears to object to on both political and artistic grounds; the influence of astrology in Soviet literary circles; and jazz music as a symbol of pure art. Filledwith references familiar and arcane, biographical and political, steeped in literary history from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth, and peppered with references to the writings of such dissimilar thinkers as Giordano Bruno, Rabelais, Goethe, and Antonin Artaud, Starfall will appeal to all readers interested in the developments of twentieth-century dramatic art.
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