A History of English Dramatic Literature to the Death of Queen Anne, Volume 1

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General Books LLC, 2010 - 436 pages
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This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1875 Excerpt: ...middle-classes could only be tempted in the same direction at the peril of something even more important than their respectability. Its entertainments were now under the influence of tastes to a great extent frivolous and to a great extent foreign. Far more certainly than D'Avenant could claim the paternity of Shakspere, the stage for which he and his contemporaries catered was the bastard of the Elisabethan theatre and of its unholy union with a foreign drama, except in its Comedy of Manners, in which it faithfully mirrored its own age. Yet to this stage of the Restoration we owe the new beginnings of a recognition of the genius of Shakspere. Of seventythree plays in which its greatest actor, Betterton, is stated to have performed, about the same number were by Shakspere as by Fletcher. It would indeed seem that Shakspere's plays were chiefly chosen for performance on account of the strong characters which they contained and of the striking situations which they furnished, --in other words, because of their lending themselves with so incomparable an ease to histrionic and scenic effect. Nor was any reverence shown by D'Avenant or Dryden in the pitiless process to which they subjected several of Shakspere's plays; but (apart from Dryden's literary appreciation of Shakspere, to be adverted to immediately) they nevertheless even in this way rendered a service to his fame. More and more his genius made itself manifest in its most natural sphere, even through the veil of versions which were perversions, and of adaptations which were a compound of mutilations and Procrustean extensions1. On the stage this method of treating Shakspere continued long after the theatre had ceased to be the sole means of keeping alive his fame, and after he had once more been enabled...

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