The Comedy of Manners

The Comedy of Manners

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The Comedy of Manners

The Comedy of Manners

Read FREE!

Excerpt

There is no History of the Comic Dramatists. There are competent memoirs scattered through various editions of the plays of Etherege, Wycherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh and Farquhar. Leigh Hunt, Macaulay, and Dr. Johnson have dealt monographically with men of the period. Hazlitt and Lamb have approached Restoration drama as critics of the theatre. Mr. Edmund Gosse, Mr. W. C. Ward, Mr. G. S. Street, and Mr. A. W. Verity, in studies of Etherege, Wycherley, Congreve, and Vanbrugh, have in the last thirty years written historically and critically of the dramatic literature of the late seventeenth century. But there has, as yet, been no attempt to present an historical view of the rise and fall of the comic dramatists of the Restoration.

What is the reason of this neglect? It is surprising that a generation of English men of letters should have left the unhistorical estimate of Macaulay as the accepted introduction to a study of the great age of English comedy. No intelligent estimate of the comic dramatists as a literary group has appeared since Leigh Hunt published his prefatory memoirs in 1849. Macaulay has remained secure in his critical triumph for over half a century. Every line of his essay upon the Leigh Hunt edition . . .

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