A Companion to Restoration Drama by Susan J. Owen

By Susan J. Owen

This 'Companion' illustrates the power and variety of dramatic paintings 1660 to 1710. Twenty-five essays by means of best students within the box collect the simplest fresh insights into the whole variety of dramatic perform and innovation on the time.

• Introduces readers to the hot increase in scholarship that has revitalised recovery drama
• Explores historic and cultural contexts, genres of recovery drama, and key dramatists, between them Dryden and Behn

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So why is late seventeenth-century English dramatic criticism important to the student of Restoration drama? First, this period marks the origin of literary criticism in England. Until well past 1700, an identifiable discipline of criticism simply did not exist: what criticism was, who should practise it and why it was worth practising were all contested questions. Part of the reason these critics seem to flounder so much is because they are searching for a critical voice. Determining how English criticism develops its own distinctive style and approach is essential to understanding the history of criticism to the present day.

Why do we need criticism, anyway? The purpose of this chapter is to offer a roughly chronological account of the major debates the principal critics of the period engaged in, while also identifying the more complex (and sometimes surprisingly modern) issues surrounding them. Finally, at its best, this criticism can be entertaining and even fun. Almost every critic writing during this period was trying to make criticism accessible and appealing to a broad audience. Students who take the time to read, in their entirety, Dryden's An Essay of Dramatick Poesie (1668), The Rehearsal (1672), Rymer's A Short View of Tragedy (1693) and Jeremy Collier's A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage (1698) will be rewarded with both a better understanding of late seventeenth-century dramatic theory and a keener appreciation for English wit.

But this essay was also the fulfillment of a promise he made in the preface to An Evening's Love to examine 'the difference betwixt the Playes of our Age, and those of our Predecessors on the English Stage' {Works 10: 202). As in his debate with Shadwell, Dryden cannot resist taking potshots at Jonson. A significant portion of the 'Defence of the Epilogue' is devoted to showcasing Jonson's egregious stylistic and grammatical errors in Catiline. ) But the 'Defence' concludes with important comments on how contemporary dramatists should use the models of Shakespeare, Fletcher and Jonson.

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