The School for Scandal

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Courier Corporation, Jan 1, 1991 - Drama - 78 pages
6 Reviews
The intrigues of such aptly named characters as Lady Sneerwell, Sir Joseph Surface, Lady Candour, and Sir Benjamin Backbite have amused theater audiences for more than two centuries. They are the invention of the Irish-born playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and they unfold, collide, and backfire hilariously in his masterpiece, The School for Scandal, a play still considered by many the best comedy of manners in English.
It is a comedy with two plots, one involving Sir Oliver Surface's attempts to discover the worthier of his two nephews, and the other unleashing Lady Sneerwell's strategies to ensnare both nephews and the hapless Lady Teazle in her designs. Both plots converge brilliantly in the screen scene -- one of the most famous in all of theater.
The School for Scandal reveals not only Sheridan's mastery of the mechanics of stage comedy, but also his flair for witty dialogue and obvious delight in skewering the affectation and pretentiousness of aristocratic Londoners of the 1770s. Its evergreen appeal makes it one of the most produced of all theater classics today, and one of the most delightful to read.

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User Review  - AliceAnna - LibraryThing

Very nicely done for the times. An excellent satire of the society of both those times and the current ones. At least the gossips weren't really hypocrites -- there wasn't much two-facedness in their ... Read full review

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User Review  - TerriS - LibraryThing

Cute, but the English of the 1700's is definitely different than the English we speak today! Read full review

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About the author (1991)

The son of Thomas Sheridan, the Irish actor and theater manager, Richard Brinsley Sheridan began writing plays as a youngster in Bath. He went on to become one of the most successful playwrights of the later eighteenth century, manager of the Drury Lane Theater, and also a politician and orator of some note in the House of Commons. Along with his friends David Garrick (seeVol. 3) and Oliver Goldsmith, Sheridan was a member of the Literary Club of Samuel Johnson, having been proposed for membership by Johnson himself. Like Goldsmith, Sheridan also attacks "The Sentimental Muse" of weeping comedy. In his best-known play, The School for Scandal (1777), Sheridan revives the Restoration comedy of manners with its portrait of the beau monde and its deflation of hypocrisy. The play is indebted to William Congreve as well as to Moliere (see Vol. 2), and the picture of society is based on Bath and London. In The Rivals (1775), Sheridan amuses himself with the language games of Mrs. Malaprop and her "nice derangement of epitaphs." The allusions are consistently literary, as in her simile "as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile." Sheridan's acute ear for banalities and truisms is best seen in The Critic (1779), a burlesque of sentimental and inflated plays as well as self-important criticism. The play ridicules "false Taste and brilliant Follies of modern dramatic Composition." Sheridan's sparking dialogue, lively scenes, and masterful dramatic construction have proved to be enduringly popular.

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