BL. W. B. Yeats


167. Qamber, Akhtar. Yeats and the Noh: With Two Plays for Dancers by Yeats and Two Noh Plays. New York: Weatherhill, 1974.

Includes in six chapters discussions of symbolism, the Irish theatre, the nô, Four Plays for Dancers (17), Irish legend, and Yeats’s attributes as a dramatist, but adds neither new information nor new insight to any of these, and concludes, remarkably, that both Yeats’s dance plays and the nô are ‘brilliant spots of eccentricity in theatre’ that ‘are meant for an eccentric minority taste’. See Taylor below for a concise listing of the work’s ‘outright misinformation’. Based on ‘Certain Noble Plays for Dancers by Yeats’, MA thesis, Columbia University, 1950.

a. Reviews: N. M. Beerbohm (Literary Criterion 12/4 [1977]: 85-87) credits Qamber with ‘unusual understanding’ of the nô and ‘rare critical insight’ about Yeats’s ‘motivation and achievement’ in adapting it; Hiro Ishibashi (Monumenta Nipponica 30 [1975]: 345-46) finds the work ‘helpful’ for ‘students of drama and art . . . who have never seen noh’ if not particularly so for students of Yeats. Beyond this reviewers were not enthusiastic. Richard Taylor (Literature East & West 18 [1974]: 390-91), already preparing his own more careful and more insightful account of the subject (see 180), notes a surplus of ‘irrelevant information’, enumerates instances of ‘outright misinformation’, and concludes that Qamber’s work ‘does not tell us anything new about either the dance plays or the Japanese classical drama’; James Flannery (Educational Theatre Journal 28 [1976]: 276-78) writes that Qamber ‘illustrates what is wrong with much orthodox literary scholarship’, and that her book ‘amounts to no more than a superficial compendium of odd facts and theories that are, or should be, already well known to any serious student of Yeats and the Noh’; Anthony Thwaite (‘Help from Japan’, TLS, 25 July 1975, p. 837) finds Qamber’s enthusiasm and restraint admirable, but ‘her book . . . so rudimentary in its information and . . . naive in its judgements that it is little more than a trip round the bay, charting territory that has already been mapped out’; and Roy Teele (Journal of Asian Studies 35 [1976]: 697-99) concludes simply that Qamber understands neither Yeats or the nô. Qamber’s work was also reviewed by Masoodi Hasan (†Aligarh Journal of English Studies 1/1 [1976]: 148-51), F. S. L. Lyons (†‘Keeping Up with Yeats Studies’, Irish Times, 19 August 1975, p. 8), and Derek Mahon (see 173).





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