The Embodiment of Characters: The Representation of Physical Experience on Stage and in Print, 1728-1749

The Embodiment of Characters: The Representation of Physical Experience on Stage and in Print, 1728-1749

The Embodiment of Characters: The Representation of Physical Experience on Stage and in Print, 1728-1749

The Embodiment of Characters: The Representation of Physical Experience on Stage and in Print, 1728-1749

Synopsis

"In The Embodiment of Characters, Jones DeRitter examines the widely acknowledged - but rarely explored - connection between the eighteenth-century London stage and the early English novel. DeRitter begins with the sweeping changes decreed by the Stage Licensing Act of 1737, which closed three of London's five legitimate theaters and dictated that every new play would have to be censored and licensed by the Lord Chamberlain's office. Before 1737, reading plays had been a favorite pastime of literate English men and women; after 1737, many of these readers shifted their attention to novels. The author surveys several attempts to represent the human body on stage and in print during this era and concludes that the stage plays of the 1730s and the novels of the 1740s are equally but differently preoccupied by the tension between abstract notions of human virtue and the concrete exigencies of physical experience. After using The Beggar's Opera and The London Merchant to trace the different ways that sex and death could be presented in the material world of theatrical performance, DeRitter uses Clarissa and Tom Jones to explain how the debate over the value and consequences of human physicality was transformed by the shift from the London stage to the pages of the realistic novel. A crucial central chapter focuses on the life and autobiographical Narrative of Charlotte Charke - performer, memoirist, and male impersonator - whose struggle to define and defend herself traversed the boundaries between print and performance, between public and private life, and between the human body and the person who inhabited it. The Embodiment of Characters will be of interest to students and scholars of eighteenth-century, gender, and cultural studies, and English literature." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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