Knapp, Bettina (Liebowitz) 1926-
KNAPP, Bettina (Liebowitz) 1926-
PERSONAL: Born May 9, 1926, in New York, NY; daughter of David (a writer) and Emily (a concert violinist; maiden name, Gresser) Liebowitz; married Russell S. Knapp (a lawyer) August 28, 1949; children: Albert, Charles. Education: Barnard College, B.A., 1947; Columbia University, M.A., 1949, Ph.D., 1955; received Certificat from Sorbonne, University of Paris. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Writing, traveling.
CAREER: Educator and author. Columbia University, New York, NY, lecturer, 1952-60; Hunter College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, NY, professor, beginning 1961, currently professor emerita of French and comparative literature. Has lectured at numerous universities in the United States, Canada, and overseas.
MEMBER: PEN, National Humanities Faculty.
AWARDS, HONORS: Guggenheim fellow; Officer of the Palmes Academiques (France); American Philosophical Society grant; Shuster Award; Faculty Research Award (three times); Medal, Alliance Francaise; President's Award for Excellence in Scholarship/Creative Activity, 1993; Honorary Member, Academia Tibernia (Rome, Italy), 1993; Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts and Lettres (France), 2000.
Louise Labé, Lettres Modernes (Paris, France), 1954.
(Coauthor) That Was Yvette: A Biography of Yvette Guilbert, the Great Diseuse, preface by Jean Hytier, Holt (New York, NY), 1964.
(Translator and author of introduction) Louise Labé, Les sonnets. The Sonnets (published in French and English), Minard (Paris, France), 1964.
(Editor, with Alba della Fazia) Jean Anouilh, Léocadia, Appleton-Century-Crofts (New York, NY), 1965.
(Translator and author of introduction) Bonaventure Des Périers, Cymbalum Mundi: Four Very Ancient Joyous and Facetious Poetic Dialogues, preface by Donald Frame, Twayne (New York, NY), 1965.
Le Mirliton: A Novel Based on the Life of Aristide Bruant, preface by Rene Taupin, Nouvelles Éditions Debresse (Paris, France), 1968.
Jean Genet: A Critical Study, Twayne (New York, NY), 1968, revised edition, 1989.
(Editor, with Alba della Fazia) Jean Anouilh, Becket; ou L'honneur de Dieu, Appleton-Century-Crofts (New York, NY), 1969.
Jean Cocteau: A Critical Study, Twayne (New York, NY), 1970, revised edition, 1989.
Jean Racine: Mythos and Renewal in Modern Theatre, preface by Henri Peyre, University of Alabama Press (University, AL), 1971.
Georges Duhamel: A Critical Study, Twayne (New York, NY), 1972.
Céline: Man of Hate, preface by Senator Jacob K. Javits, University of Alabama Press (University, AL), 1974.
Off-Stage Voices, Whitston Press (Troy, NY), 1975.
Maurice Maeterlinck: A Critical Study, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1975.
French Novelists Speak-Out, Whitston Press (Troy, NY), 1976.
Dream and Image, Whitston Press (Troy, NY), 1977.
Fernand Crommelynck, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1978.
Anaïs Nin, Ungar (New York, NY), 1978.
The Prometheus Syndrome, preface by Salo W. Baron, Whitston Press (Troy, NY), 1979.
Émile Zola, Ungar (New York, NY), 1980.
Gérard de Nerval: The Mystic's Dilemma, preface by Jean-Pierre Faye, University of Alabama Press (University, AL), 1980.
Theatre and Alchemy, preface by Mircea Eliade, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 1980.
Sacha Guitry, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1981.
(Coauthor) An Anthology of Modern Belgian Theatre, Whitston Press (Troy, NY), 1982.
Paul Claudel, Ungar (New York, NY), 1982.
(Editor) The Lewis Mumford/David Liebovitz Letters (1923-1968), Whitston Press (Troy, NY), 1983.
Archetypes, Dance, and the Writer, Bethel (Troy, NY), 1984.
Andrée Chedid, Rodopi (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 1984.
A Jungian Approach to Literature, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1984.
Edgar Allan Poe, Ungar (New York, NY), 1984.
Word, Image, Psyche, University of Alabama Press (University, AL), 1985.
French Theatre, 1918-1939, Macmillan (London, England), 1985.
Archetype, Architecture, and the Writer, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1986.
Stephen Crane, Continuum (New York, NY), 1987.
Women in Twentieth-Century Literature: A Jungian View, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1987.
The Reign of the Theatrical Director: French Theatre, 1887-1914, Whitston Press (Troy, NY), 1988.
(Editor) Critical Essays on Albert Camus, G. K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1988.
Music, Archetype, and the Writer, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1988.
Liliane Atlan, Rodopi (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 1988.
Emily Dickinson, Continuum (New York, NY), 1989.
Machine, Metaphor, and the Writer: A Jungian View, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1989.
(Editor, with Hanna K. Charney) René Taupin, Essais indifférents pour une esthétique, Lang (New York, NY), 1989.
Gertrude Stein, Continuum (New York, NY), 1990.
The Brontës: Branwell, Anne, Emily, Charlotte, Continuum (New York, NY), 1991.
Exile and the Writer: Exoteric and Esoteric Experiences, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1991.
Images of Chinese Women: A Westerner's View, Whitston Press (Troy, NY), 1992.
Images of Japanese Women: A Westerner's View, Whitston Press (Troy, NY), 1992.
Walt Whitman, Continuum (New York, NY), 1993.
French Theater since 1968, Twayne (New York, NY), 1995.
Manna & Mystery: A Jungian Approach to Hebrew Myth and Legend, Chiron (Wilmette, IL), 1995.
Pierrette Fleutiaux, Rodopi (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), 1997.
Women in Myth, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1997.
(Editor) Critical Essays on Marguerite Duras, G. K. Hall (New York, NY), 1998.
Women, Myth, and the Feminine Principle, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1998.
Gambling, Game, and Psyche, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 2000.
Voltaire Revisited, Twayne (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor, with Alba Amoia) Multicultural Writers from Antiquity to 1945, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2002.
French Fairy Tales: A Jungian Approach, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 2003.
(Editor, with Alba Amoia) Multicultural Writers since 1945: An A-to-Z Guide, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2004.
Editor of "World Literature Series," Penkevill Press. Has edited issues of L'Esprit Creatuer, Modern Language Studies, Dalhousie French Review, Antemnae, and Symposium. Member of editorial boards of Quadrant, Symposium, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Dalhousie French Review, Arabesque, Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, Cincinnati Romance Review, and Europe Plurilingue. Also author of textbooks (in French) and articles for encyclopedias.
Contributor of articles on French theatre to Columbia Encyclopedia and Grolier Encyclopedia. Contributor to periodicals, including Tulane Drama Review, Yale French Studies, Horizon, French Review, Revue d'Histoire du Theatre, and Modern Drama.
SIDELIGHTS: Bettina Knapp is a scholar and educator who has published award-winning books on a wide variety of subjects, including the French theater, the psyche of a gambler, and the role of women in mythology. Critics have praised Knapp's in-depth research, critical analyses, and warm writing style.
Knapp delves into the human unconscious in some of her early works, including Céline: Man of Hate and Dream and Image. According to Ellen Friedman in American Women Writers, Knapp considered Céline to be her most courageous work. French writer and physician Louis-Ferdinand Céline leapt on to the Parisian literary scene with his first novel, Journey to the End of the Night, a work that was both applauded and criticized by reviewers for its brutal recounting of one man's journey through Europe and North Africa during the early twentieth century. As fellow writers found the novel laudable for its recounting of the young century's missteps in war, colonialism, and mind-numbing factory work, many critics were taken aback by the level of hate found in Journey to the End of theNight. But even supporters found siding with Céline difficult after he began letting his distaste for Jews be known, expressing his intolerance in pamphlets and sympathizing with the Germans during the Second World War. Knapp studies Céline's anti-Semitism in her book, a challenging undertaking for the Jewish author. Knapp believed Céline to be a man unable to confront his "shadow" by establishing a rapport between his conscious and unconscious selves. Knapp argues that Céline is not unique, but a symbol of a larger world.
Critics praised Dream and Image, in which Knapp considers the relationship between dreams as expression of the unconscious and creativity in seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century French figures. Writing in American Women Writers, Friedman explained, "Her method is to allow the writer or work being analyzed to suggest the pattern she describes: the Great Female Archetype in Racine, the battle with Thanatos in Mallarmé, the conflict between Christian and pagan values in Gautier." Friedman continued, "Yet the unifying emphases are on the way dreams influence, inspire, and enrich the creative process, and on the way creative works express or resolve the eternal struggles of the psyche."
Friedman described The Prometheus Syndrome as "a provocative work" that investigates the Promethean impulse, a force that compels human beings to create, excel, and surpass the achievements of their predecessors. Knapp divides the Prometheus myth into stages, including Prometheus's fashioning of the human race, stealing of fire, being punished for his crime, and reintegration into the society he rejected. Knapp then explains how each stage in the myth corresponds to the efforts of both fictional characters and real people.
In her critically acclaimed French Theater since 1968, Knapp begins with the French uprisings in May of 1968, which resulted in an antiestablishment movement that began the reevaluation of French drama. Knapp analyzes the innovations that have taken place in French theater as playwrights experimented with new material and forms and the overall concept of theater. Writing in Symposium, Paul J. Archambault described the book as a "remarkable overview" of late-twentieth-century French theater and noted that Knapp "is attentive to playwrights, plays, actors, and directors, but her primary attention is paid to directors, most of whom she has interviewed personally." Archambault concluded that French Theater since 1968 "is factual enough to please the nonspecialist, and interpretative enough to satisfy the initiated." While most critics praised the book, Emile J. Talbot, writing in World Literature Today, felt the "style appears hurried and the syntax unrigorous," and believed that "a more careful reading would have enhanced the value of the book." Talbot did, however, find merit in Knapp's comments about "the direction, staging, casting, costuming, scenery, lighting, and sounds of individual production," elements not found in the written script alone.
In Women in Myth, Knapp analyzes myths from nine countries to reveal the mythical woman's role in ancient societies. She discusses the abilities and outlooks of figures such as Isis, Tiamat, Dido, Camilla, Deborah, Iphigenia, Salome, Amaterasu, and Nu-Kwa, and explores whether these women were goddesses, fought in battles, and even experienced identity crises. Women in Myth "raises contemporary issues, especially for readers who project their situation into the myths," remarked Library Journal's Carolyn M. Craft.
Knapp personally breaks new ground when she explores the highs and lows of gambling and traces the growing interest in multiculturalism in the late-twentieth century. Adopting a Jungian approach, Knapp explores the psyches and cultures of gamblers and the impact of their actions on their families and society in Gambling, Game, and Psyche. She examines a different type of gambling in each of the book's nine chapters as evidenced in Western and Eastern tradition through famous literary works. Explained Jackson Lears in New Republic, "Her quest for the larger meanings of gambling leads her through a remarkable variety of literary texts, from [Blaise] Pascal's Pensees and [Edgar Allan] Poe's 'William Wilson' to [Yasunari] Kawabata's The Master of Go and Zhang Xinxin's Orchid Madness." Lear described Knapp's imagination in the book as "wide-ranging and eclectic, but also wedded to formula." The reviewer considered Knapp's adherence to a Jungian framework to be "somewhat unfortunate but not altogether a bad thing."
Multicultural Writers from Antiquity to 1945 is a compilation of alphabetically arranged entries from more than one hundred writers worldwide from ancient times to the end of World War II. Knapp analyzes their writing to determine the ways in which creativity is enhanced when people come into contact with cultures other than their own. She concludes that the influence of multiculturalism is particularly apparent in literature since writers are often acutely in tune to their environments and record their experiences.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Women Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Choice, October, 1995, review of French Theater since 1968, p. 305; June, 1997, review of Women in Myth, p. 1681; April, 1998, review Women, Myth, and the Feminine Principle, p. 1365.
French Review, December, 1996, reviewed of French Theater since 1968, p. 342.
Library Journal, January, 1997, Carolyn M. Craft, review of Women in Myth, p. 105.
New Republic, May 29, 2000, Jackson Lears, "Gambling for Grace: The Other American Faith," p. 36.
NWSA Journal, fall, 1994, review of Images of Chinese Women, p. 501.
Reference and Research Book News, February, 1994, p. 52; May, 1997, review of Women in Myth, p. 11.
Symposium, summer, 1998, Paul J. Archambault, review of French Theater since 1968, pp. 123-125.
World Literature Today, spring, 1996, Emile J. Talbot, review of French Theater since 1968, p. 364; autumn, 1998, review of Women, Myth, and the Feminine Principle.*