Shakspere to Sheridan: A Book about the Theatre of Yesterday and To-Day

Shakspere to Sheridan: A Book about the Theatre of Yesterday and To-Day

Shakspere to Sheridan: A Book about the Theatre of Yesterday and To-Day

Shakspere to Sheridan: A Book about the Theatre of Yesterday and To-Day

Excerpt

A book about the theatre, like the theatre itself, ought to be conscious of the varied demands of the audience it seeks to attract. I believe, moreover, that -- like the theatre again -- it may best fulfill its purpose by offering something of "profit or delight" to all sorts and conditions of people. At all events I have consistently aimed to make this book at once useful and interesting, and that no less to students than to readers and theatre-goers in general. In the last analysis, I think, these aims are logically one and the same, though I am aware that ways and means may differ. At worst, the notes, appendices, and index of this book will not trouble the casual reader. I hope they will prove serviceable to fellow students.

To sketch here the general bearings and implications of my subject would be to exceed the limits of a preface. Such a sketch, therefore, forms the subject matter of the introductory chapter. One point, however, I should like to make at once. This book treats of the life story of the theatre in Shakspere's time and during the two centuries after him as of one organic whole: it seeks to draw a living cross-section thereof. By choice and by necessity earlier investigators have, as a rule, devoted themselves to more narrowly circumscribed periods of dramatic or theatrical history. We have had invaluable contributions to our knowledge of this or that aspect of the Shaksperean field, and to this or that special period or phenomenon of later times, -- but all too much of the new information is still kept in water-tight compartments. My underlying purpose here, then, is to show how continuous has been the great tradition: how . . .

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