Michael Gamer responds to Elizabeth Oldfather
I couldn’t agree more: for me the most pleasurable moments of reading The Romantic Tavern were those of imaginative reconstruction: of the spaces, particularly the opulence of dining rooms that could seat 500 people; of the identities and world views of various assemblies; of the dinners, the toasts, and the songs; and of relationships begun, renewed, repaired, or ended. That Newman makes these spaces come alive – and enables readers to recognize their particularities and make distinctions between them – is a real and formidable achievement. His methodology recalls what I still find compelling in the best theatre history, where various props and analytical approaches (floorplans, descriptions, event menus, demography, reception, memoir) combine to produce a clear sense of what a given evening in a given space was like. His close reading skills are his own.
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