Voltaire and the Theatre of the Eighteenth Century

Voltaire and the Theatre of the Eighteenth Century

Voltaire and the Theatre of the Eighteenth Century

Voltaire and the Theatre of the Eighteenth Century

Synopsis

Born in the final years of the seventeenth century, and dying a decade before the beginning of the French Revolution, Voltaire was a quintessential figure of the eighteenth century. He was the most popular and influential dramatist of his time, creating successful works in all the most appealing genres of the period--comedy, tragedy, opera, comic opera, and court spectacle. This book chronicles his life and dramatic achievements and thus illuminates much of eighteenth century culture. His theatrical biography involves all aspects of acting and staging in amateur and society theatre as well as on major professional stages and performances at court. His extended visits to England and Germany are covered in chapters that also provide an introduction to the theatre of the period in those countries, and his international interests and correspondence provide insights into the eighteenth century theatre in places such as Italy, Russia, and Denmark.

Excerpt

Lives of the Theatre is designed to provide scholarly introductions to important periods and movements in the history of world theatre from the earliest instances of recorded performance through to the twentieth century, viewing the theatre consistently through the lives of representative theatrical practitioners. Although many of the volumes will be centered upon playwrights, other important theatre people, such as actors and directors, will also be prominent in the series. The subjects have been chosen not simply for their individual importance, but because their lives in the theatre can well serve to provide a major perspective on the theatrical trends of their eras. They are therefore either representative of their time, figures whom their contemporaries recognized as vital presences in the theatre, or they are people whose work was to have a fundamental influence on the development of theatre, not only in their lifetimes but after their deaths as well. While the discussion of verbal and written scripts will inevitably be a central concern in any volume that is about an artist who wrote for the theatre, these scripts will always be considered in their function as a basis for performance.

The rubric Lives of the Theatre is therefore intended to suggest both biographies of people who created theatre as an institution and as a medium of performance and of the life of the theatre itself. This dual focus will be illustrated through the titles of the individual volumes, such as Christopher Marlowe and the Renaissance of Tragedy, George Bernard Shaw and the Socialist Theatre, and Richard Wagner and Festival Theatre, to name just a few. At the same time, although the focus of each volume will be different, depending on the particular subject, appropriate emphasis will be given to the cultural and political context within which the theatre of any given time . . .

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