Lovers, Clowns, and Fairies: An Essay on Comedies

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University of Chicago Press, Jun 15, 1993 - Humor - 272 pages
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Through dreams and shadows and strangeness, through blinding charms and eye-opening counter-charms, through moments of mortification and laughter—thus Stuart M. Tave traces the journey of the lovers, clowns, and fairies who populate comedies from A Midsummer Night's Dream to Waiting for Godot. Tave avoids the pitfalls of theory, taking instead a close look at particular works to give us a sense of the relations between certain dramas and novels that are called comedies. The result is a wonderfully readable book that renews our delight in the enchanting possibilities of literature.

A Midsummer Night's Dream, in its "perfection," is Tave's point of departure. Its characters fall neatly into the three groups of Tave's title and fulfill to perfection their functions of desire, foolishness, and power. From the magical concord of Shakespeare's resolution, Tave moves to works whose character face ever greater difficulties in reaching a happy conclusion. From Jonson and Austen to Chekhov and Beckett, he meets comedies on their own terms, illuminating the complex and individual genius of each. A masterpiece of practical criticism, Lovers, Clowns, and Fairies rediscovers the pleasure of reading comedies.
 

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Contents

A league without the town A Midsummer Nights Dream
1
These mountains make you dream of women Man and Superman
26
What are men to rocks and mountains? Pride and Prejudice
58
All beyond High Parks a desert The Man of Mode
90
Bevil Juniors lodgings The Conscious Lovers
118
A league below the city Measure for Measure
138
To the hospital of the Incurabili Volpone
174
The wrong time to give a dance The Cherry Orchard
198
A pause
226
Getting forwards in two different journies together Tristram Shandy
243
Index
271
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About the author (1993)

Stuart M. Tave, William Rainey Harper Professor in the College and professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago, is the author of several books, including Some Words of Jane Austen.

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