Fletcher, Beaumont & Company

Fletcher, Beaumont & Company

Fletcher, Beaumont & Company

Fletcher, Beaumont & Company

Excerpt

This book has evolved from the idea of re-examining Stuart tragicomedy. Since the body of plays popularly known as "The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher" is at the center of such a study, it was clear from the beginning that a careful perusal of the tragicomedies in this corpus--and of the tragedies as well--came first. Then, as I read through the whole body of the plays, studying at the same time much of the twentieth century criticism of Fletcher, Beaumont and Massinger, I was slowly deflected from my original purpose. A point of irritation had been set up in my mind by the differences between my own reactions to the plays I was reading and certain opinions about them which I found in recent criticism.

The suspicion that these opinions might be conventional reflections of earlier attitudes set me to tracing back through the centuries the reputation of "Beaumont and Fletcher." As I amassed all the critical materials which I could locate, the projected book on Stuart tragicomedy gradually yielded place to a study of Fletcher, Beaumont and Company, with the growth of whose reputation I was becoming familiar.

In a number of instances my suspicion about modern opinions of these playwrights proved to be justified. I therefore came to believe that there existed a need for a re-interpretation of "Beaumont and Fletcher" which would be solidly based upon a widely representative and, at the same time, critical survey of their reputation from Stuart times to the present. It seemed probable that such a history of the attitudes towards these playwrights would reveal the weaknesses in certain present day opinions about them which derive from the past, and would thus, at various points, clarify or even make valid, this re-interpretation. At the same time the survey might well fill an existing gap in the history of the reputations of the Elizabethan-Stuart playwrights--and thus have an additional usefulness for readers of Jacobean drama.

Several years before I began this study, when trying to make clear to college classes why Hamlet is actually superior to The Maid's Tragedy, I

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