The Recruiting Officer

Front Cover
U of Nebraska Press, 1992 - Drama - 137 pages
8 Reviews
Since its first appearance in 1706, The Recruiting Officer has remained a scathing satire of military recruitment. George Farquhar knew the subject well, since he had been involved himself in the tricks and intimidation that enlisted recruits for Queen Anne's army in the War of Spanish Succession from 1703-1705.

In Farquhar's play, two recruiting officers compete for recruits in the same locale. Recruiting in those years required more than patriotism and the lure of glory: it relied on bribery, alcohol, and the whole armory of deceit. Farquhar's play makes connections explicit, further setting off their dramatic power by linking recruiting tactics to the rites of courtship. His satire is intensified by his much-admired portrayals of the characters and situations of rural life; Farquhar brought the men and women of field and village truly to the stage.


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Review: The Recruiting Officer

User Review  - Simon - Goodreads

Every third year I feel the need to read this just to remind myself where the best of modern humour came from. A treat! Read full review

Review: The Recruiting Officer

User Review  - Goodreads

Every third year I feel the need to read this just to remind myself where the best of modern humour came from. A treat! Read full review

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Jean-Franšois Lyotard
Simon Malpas
No preview available - 2003
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About the author (1992)

George Farquhar (1678-1707) was an Irish-born playwright of the Restoration period. During his ten-year career, he produced two brilliant comedies, "The Recruiting Officer" in 1706 and "The Beaux' Stratagem" the following year. The son of a clergyman, he studied at Trinity College, Dublin, before briefly working as an actor at the Smock Alley Theatre in that city. Following an accident during a stage fight, when he mistakenly used a real sword and wounded a fellow actor so badly that he almost died, Farquhar renounced acting. Encouraged by his fellow actor Robert Wilks, he took up the pen and settled in London. His first play "Love and a Bottle" was well received at Drury Lane in 1698. The following year, T"he Constant Couple; or, A Trip to the Jubilee" was an even greater hit with Wilks in the lead. After "Sir Harry Wildair" (1701), a sequel to "The Constant Couple", and "The Twin-Rivals" (1702), he wrote his first great play. The first production of "The Recruiting Officer "starred Anne Oldfield, with whom Farquhar supposedly had an affair. The following year Farquhar, with "not one shilling" in his pocket, was encouraged by Wilks to produce a hastily written play. The next day Farquhar delivered the plot for "The Beaux' Stratagem", which was presented on stage within six weeks. He died from tuberculosis after the third performance.

Shugrue of the College of Staten Island, CUNY

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