Shakespeare Improved: The Restoration Versions in Quarto and on the Stage

Shakespeare Improved: The Restoration Versions in Quarto and on the Stage

Shakespeare Improved: The Restoration Versions in Quarto and on the Stage

Shakespeare Improved: The Restoration Versions in Quarto and on the Stage

Excerpt

The object of this book is to tell the story of Shakespearean performance on the London stage from 1660, when the licensed theatres reopened, to 1710, when the great actor Betterton died and Drury Lane passed into the control of the first triumvirate, Wilks, Cibber, and Dogget. By that time all the plays had been produced which we now include under the general title of Restoration Drama. Poor George Farquhar's troubles were over. Congreve was alive, but as good as dead for all he mattered to the English stage. Steele had begun the Taller the year before -- a decade was to elapse before The Conscious Lovers. Throughout our study, then, 1710 is to stand as the terminal date for the Restoration theatre. It nearly coincides with the date which marks the end of the long sequence of independent Shakespeare Quartos, for Rowe published the first critical edition in 1709.

The notion of Shakespeare entertained by any age affords an index to its thought in general. If men re-create God in their own image, they are constantly remodelling their effigy of him whom they insist on regarding as the most God-like of men. Après Dieu, il créa le plus. I hope that without trespassing on sociological territory this volume may serve in some measure to illuminate the Restoration mind. More specifically, an examination of the place of Shakespeare on the stage focuses for the student current dramatic and theatrical ideas. And finally, as a third excuse for dealing so extensively with this subject, the present tendency of scholars to minimize the closing of the theatres (1642-1660) suggests the likelihood that now and again we may find in the Restoration a clue to the Elizabethan.

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