British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

Excerpt

This collection of plays seeks to illustrate significant periods and types of English drama from 1660 to 1780. Characteristic works of dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan are accordingly grouped and discussed in broad relation to their times and tendencies. For further background, some salient passages are quoted from contemporary commentators like Dryden, Jeremy Collier, Fielding, and Goldsmith, who variously reflect different periods and aspects of critical controversy in the theatre. The choice of representative plays freely includes familiar masterpieces and examples. Thus the historic trio of eighteenth-century comedies, She Stoops to Conquer, The Rivals, and The School for Scandal, and the outstanding trio of dramatic burlesques, The Rehearsal, Tom Thumb, and The Critic, are maintained in the full force of their firm associations in dramatic history and stage tradition. Other interrelations within a given period, as in the close connection of The Rehearsal with The Conquest of Granada, or between different periods, as in the case of Restoration and eighteenth-century comedies of manners, or of early and late sentimental comedies, are considerably exemplified. In the rich field of Restoration comedy, the choice of representative dramatists includes the four grouped by Leigh Hunt in 1840, together with Etherege, their predecessor, whom Gosse may be said to have prefixed to the canon. Most of the plays in this volume were promptly established as typical stage favorites, and many of them long outlived on the stage the immediate periods and fashions which they represent in the historic development of English drama.

In printing these plays, explanatory notes for the general reader are distinctly separated from textual variants that need concern only the special student. For similar convenience, an appendix entitled TEXTUAL NOTES (pp. 913-957) segregates detailed bibliographical and textual information concerning each play, and indicates the preferred text, the specific copies of different editions collated, and the location . . .

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