The Poems and Plays of Thomas Wade

The Poems and Plays of Thomas Wade

The Poems and Plays of Thomas Wade

The Poems and Plays of Thomas Wade

Synopsis

Scholars agree that Thomas Wade (1805-1875) is perhaps the greatest find left in English literary history. A free-thinker who managed not to abandon his principles during a poetical career of 50 years, Wade wrote some of the most vibrant roles for women on the English stage in the period between Shakespeare and Shaw, and he drew the most favorable portrait of a Jew in English literature before Daniel Deronda. With the publication of this volume, his poems and plays have for the first time been compiled and edited.

Excerpt

The light of Romanticism seemed about to flicker and fail in English literature of the late 1820s. The voices of Keats, Shelley, Byron, and Blake had been muted by death, and the best work of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Scott had been done, as had a great amount of that by the later Romantics John Clare, George Darley, and Thomas Lovell Beddoes. Yet the last to flourish was Thomas Wade, whose literary career began as theirs declined. Born in 1805, the son of a brewer and a clergyman's daughter, Wade was a lifelong Romantic who never abandoned the spirited, free-thinking principles of his youth. He carried the torch of Romantic enlightenment well into the Victorian era, in verses written as late as 1871 still exalting erotic love, reSYSTEMan politics, and the Romantic imagination.

Though Wade and his works have been all but forgotten, much can be said in favor of this fascinating poet. His poetry was the first to reveal the scope of Shelley's influence on English verse. In 1825 Wade produced the finest book of English poems between Shelley's posthumous volume and the advent of Tennyson. His plays disprove critical clichés that poets of the period were incapable of comedy and lacked theatrical instinct. He dazzled audiences at Covent Garden with a series of plays unrivaled in the Romantic canon for artistic range, theatrical appeal, and relevance to the modern era. Wade drew the most favorable portrait of a Jew in English literature before Daniel Deronda, and he created several of the most vivid and intriguing female characters in English drama between Shakespeare and Shaw. All but the earliest of his poems are uncluttered by the trivial bagatelle of much minor verse; indeed, his work constitutes an extraordinary compendium of the essential and enduring elements of Romanticism. In his spiritual approach to nature, his passionate sensibility, his liberal politics, his emphasis on love, and his . . .

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