I have started reading Mr Steiner's The Death Of Tragedy (1961). It is dazzling, of course, and its light might have changed the way I saw The May Queen* had I been exposed to it when I was writing that play. But it never occurred to me till just lately that I might read Steiner, knowing my intellectual limitations as I do. I read Eagleton's Sweet Violence, and kept my nostrils above the waterline, just. But GS's reputation had me in thrall. Now, it's his writing, speed of thought, wit. He is mesmerising, not intimidating, in analysing the tension between the neo-classical drama and the "open" form of tragic plot forged in the hurlyburly of Elizabethan London. And he is very cutting already, in the first forty pages, about writers who attempt later reinvention of the works of those who mastered the genre. In a passage evaluating John Dryden's relationship with Shakespeare he says: "After the seventeenth century the art of pastiche will play an increasing role in the history of drama. Barren of invention, poets start pouring new sauces over old meats. In dealing with Dryden, we are still worlds away from such miseries as Mourning Becomes Electra or Cocteau's Machine infernale, but we are on the road."
Come on George, get off that fence.
*Not too coy to link to this now, don't ask me why.
Meanwhile Yankee Stadium has breathed its last. I have been an arms-length armchair baseball fan for a good while. Channel 5 have been providing middle-of-the-night coverage for years, and they give on-air shouts of Hardcore! to viewers who text in while watching live. I have always, apart from the odd bout of insomnia, been softcore, and my knowlege of the game's immense lore is shallow. In the park a couple of days ago, for instance, I asked our New Yorker journalist neighbour Michael (who works on this, among other things) if he was Mets or Yankees. Taking a pause to ride over the idiocy of the question he replied, "Giants." His team moved to California in 1957, and became the San Francisco Giants. Which makes the brouhaha about Everton's proposed move from Goodison Park to Kirkby look a little silly, really. The last time I was there, Kirkby was full of Scousers - and Evertonians - in spite of its being technically just outside the city boundary. But I digress. Here is Mr George Steinbrenner, legendary and controversial owner of the Yankees, as lampooned (affectionately, sort of) by Larry David in Seinfeld.