Types of Historical Drama

Types of Historical Drama

Types of Historical Drama

Types of Historical Drama

Excerpt

The plays in this volume may serve to illustrate how dramatists under the leadership of Shakespeare have made the characters and events of history live again upon the stage. Clothed with the imagination of the dramatic poet, the illustrious figures of the past become "forms more real than living man, nurslings of immortality." After the Elizabethan period, the history play is found reborn in Germany during the Romantic era. Wilhelm Schlegel voiced the faith of the German playwrights of this period when he maintained that history offered the greatest possibilities for the dramatic imagination; and the dramas of Schiller, devoted to historical themes, exemplified it. Kleist, a fellow romantic, and the philosophic Hebbel, continued the tradition. In England, the history play reappeared in the 19th century, and won success upon the stage in the works of Bulwer-Lytton, Tennyson, and Stephen Phillips. During this period Ibsen also was finding in Scandinavian history material for his spirited saga dramas. The recent successes ofJohn Drinkwater Abraham Lincoln andBernard Shaw's Saint Joan show that the historical drama still has possibilities. They may be an earnest of the future, for it is difficult to believe that the history play will not find a place in any future revival of interest in drama.

To Richard G. Badger and "Poet Lore" I am indebted for permission to reprint the translation of Agnes Bernauer; to J. B. Lyon & Company, for the English version of Kleist's Prince of Homburg, reprinted from The German Classics; and to Charles Scribner's Sons for William Archer's translation ofIbsen The Pretenders.

Professor C. L. Townsend of Southwestern College has of-

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