Academic journal article Restoration and 18th Century Theatre Research

Brian Corman, Ed. the Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy

Academic journal article Restoration and 18th Century Theatre Research

Brian Corman, Ed. the Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy

Article excerpt

Brian Corman, ed. The Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy New York: Broadview Press, 2013. 500 pp. $35.95 USD (paperback). ISBN: 9781551119229.

The present volume is the third of Broadview's excellent anthologies of Restoration and eighteenth-century drama. The first of these-The Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Drama (2001)- comprised a comprehensive, stimulating, and (often) ground-breaking collection of forty-one plays, succinctly edited (together with head-notes) by a range of specialist scholars, and selected by J. Douglas Canfield, general editor of the volume. This was followed by a Concise Edition (2003), which reprinted twenty-one of the plays, accompanied by much of the relevant editorial, historical, and critical material to be found in the earlier anthology.

Brian Corman's anthology draws on Canfield's editions, to which he himself contributed as the editor of John Dryden's Marriage a la Mode. His volume reprints nine of the comedies as edited for the two preceding anthologies, together with a welcome new addition-Frances Burney's The Witlings: A Comedy by a Sister of the Order (written 1778-79, but unperformed until the twentieth century). Corman, however, diverges significantly from Canfield's policy in the two earlier collections, by his decision to include also an appendix of critical texts of the period. This consists mainly of extracts, though some shorter pieces, such as Aphra Behn's preface to The Lucky Chance (1686), or William Congreve's letter, "Concerning Humour in Comedy" (1695), are printed in full. These highly useful additions, selected by Corman, are arranged chronologically from Dryden to Samuel Johnson, and edited specifically for the anthology by Darryl P. Domingo.

In other respects, the anthology largely follows the pattern established by Canfield: the plays are presented chronologically, together with their original cast-lists (where extant), and Corman retains Canfield's general glossary (printed at the end of the collection), though necessarily "reconfigured for the selection of plays in this volume" ("Preface"). He has also, in some cases, added a few notes to the plays to supplement those already present. As in the two earlier anthologies, each play has its own introductory head-note, though in the case of the nine comedies reprinted from Canfield, Corman has replaced the original, largely critical head-notes of individual editors (including his own to Marriage a la Mode), with new, more factual, and historically-weighted, introductory material. …

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