The Theatre, 1720

The Theatre, 1720

The Theatre, 1720

The Theatre, 1720

Excerpt

The title of The Theatre is at least partially misleading. Steele's affairs at Drury Lane provided the motive for his undertaking it, to be sure, and they provided the occasion for a series of discussions of theatrical affairs; but the journal is not exclusively or even primarily about the theatre. Rather, it has a range of subjects which coincides with Steele's interests in 1720; it includes essays on politics and economics, on personalities, morals, and manners, as well as on Drury Lane and the then unfinished play which we know as The Conscious Lovers. It is, in brief, a record of Steele's thought at the end of his career, a record of his final position on a number of subjects with which he had been preoccupied throughout his mature years. As such, it merits a new edition, the first it has had since the eighteenth century.

In preparing this edition, I have tried to keep in mind the needs of the audience it is likely to attract: one made up of scholars who will wish to have detailed information about the events to which Steele refers. The introduction and the explanatory notes are, accordingly, comprehensive. On the other hand, the bibliographical description is brief: the journal presents few bibliographical problems. Still, scholars will be able to determine, with such information as I provide, whether a given half-sheet number of the periodical is or is not an original issue.

J. L.

Stanford, California3 June 1961 . . .

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