Next to Shakespeare: Otway's Venice Preserv'd, and the Orphan, and Their History on the London Stage

Next to Shakespeare: Otway's Venice Preserv'd, and the Orphan, and Their History on the London Stage

Next to Shakespeare: Otway's Venice Preserv'd, and the Orphan, and Their History on the London Stage

Next to Shakespeare: Otway's Venice Preserv'd, and the Orphan, and Their History on the London Stage

Excerpt

The following study consists of a critical analysis of Thomas Otway's plays, The Orphan and Venice Preserv'd, and a detailed account of their history on the London stage; it should be read primarily as an essay in the history of dramatic taste. Of the tragedies written during the Restoration, two alone-- The Orphan and Venice Preserv'd--survived all the vicissitudes of dramatic fashion in the eighteenth century. Every great actor and actress, from Betterton and Mrs. Barry down to Mrs. Siddons and the Kembles, appeared in the leading roles of both plays, and the annals of the stage are replete with their triumphs. The popularity of these plays is all the more remarkable in view of their subsequent neglect. As a manifestation of the taste of playgoing Englishmen for a period of more than two centuries, the fate of Otway's plays, once esteemed as second only to Shakespeare's, is quite unparalleled in English literary history.

In the course of my studies I have incurred so many obligations to so many people that it would be a long task, though a pleasant one, to record them in full. To Professor Arthur Colby Sprague of Bryn Mawr College, I owe a debt which is greater than I can acknowledge formally: without his trenchant criticism and never- failing encouragement, this study could not have been brought to its present state. It is as the work of one of Professor Sprague's students that I wish the following pages to be read. I wish also to express my gratitude to Professor S. C. Chew of Bryn Mawr for his good counsel on numerous occasions; to Professor S. J. Herben of Bryn Mawr for his invaluable help on matters of style; and to Professor Philip W. Souers, formerly of Newcomb College, who, occupied as he was with his duties as head of a department, was never too busy to talk with me about Otway.

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