The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969

Book Reviews

The last hundred pages of the book list the productions and casts
for each season since 1910. This is redundant, since Mr. Davis cov-
ered this material in detail in his text, but shows that the earlier
years were much more imaginative than recent seasons. This is prob-
ably the real point. Opera cannot compete with other diversions in
America, and it flourished sporadically in Chicago as a kind of adver-
tisement, "by the linking of opera to civic devotion" (p. 95). The
people at large, and often lovers of "good music," usually see opera
as aristocratic, pretentious, and unrealistic. That the television, movies,
and stage plays they watch are equally unreal merely underscores a
basic suspicion of opera as an imported art form unsuited to the Amer-
ican utilitarian experience. To keep it alive, much less imaginative,
opera's custodians must run the two risks of expensive variety for a
select few, and stultification at the hands of a larger audience that
likes nothing but "Carmen" and "La Boheme."
Davis has written an interesting, though seldom penetrating and
hardly original book. The reader will have to infer from its text how
the subject matter fits into the larger American cultural scene. But it
makes interesting reading for opera buffs like this reviewer. Perhaps
it ought not be judged by any different standard.
University of Texas at Austin H. WAYNE MORGAN
Clio's Servant: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1846-1954-
By Clifford Lord and Carl Ubbelohde. Madison (State Historical
Society of Wisconsin), 1967. Pp. x+577. Preface, bibliography,
index. $io.oo.
This is a "family history" of the State Historical Society of Wis-
consin, affectionately called "The Grand Old Lady of State Street"
by devoted admirers. From a halting start in the late 184o's, this
remarkable institution weathered depressions, wars, political hostil-
ity, internal dissensions, and administrative blunders to become one
of the most influential organizations of its kind in the country, flat-
teringly imitated by many state and local societies. Not clear at first
as to its own nature and function, it evolved into a rare hybrid of
archives, library, museum, publishing house, and extension school.
It pioneered in, or perfected, such projects as mobile museums, land-
marks, amateur pageants, foreign exchanges, and affiliated societies.
Throughout its history it has maintained a healthy balance between
scholarly production and the popularization of history.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117146/. Accessed September 17, 2014.