Chapter 1
THE PROBLEM OF APPROACH

'SURE, they can never die,' wrote Humphrey Moseley of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher in the year 1647. He was the publisher of the Folio volume printed in that year, containing such of their plays as had not been previously published,1 and he had good reason for confidence in his business venture and perhaps even in his prophetic enthusiasm. Beaumont had died in 1616 and Fletcher in 1625, but the plays that they wrote together and those, more numerous, that Fletcher had written alone or in collaboration with other playwrights, had formed a substantial part of the repertory until civil war came in 1642. When the Folio was published, it was a time of closed theatres and of puritan government: all the more probably would there be a good supply of readers who, through the printed page, might call back memories of performances they had seen. Only two other English dramatists--Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare--had hitherto received the honour of a Folio publication of their plays, and certainly there could have been no doubt in the minds of seventeenth-century playgoers and readers that the body of work associated with the names of Beaumont and Fletcher came next in rank to Jonson's and Shakespeare's. When the time of closed theatres was done, it was indeed these four playwrights whose work continued to hold the stage. Certainly in the opening years of

____________________
1
Except for The Wild Goose Chase, which was first published in 1652.

-1-

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The John Fletcher Plays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter 1 - The Problem Of Approach 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Dramatic Mode Of John Fletcher 24
  • Chapter 3 - Comedy 48
  • Chapter 4 - Tragicomedy 77
  • Chapter 5 - Tragedy 108
  • Chapter 6 - Fletcher And Shakespeare 144
  • Appendix 169
  • Index 175
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