Victorian Epic Burlesques: A Critical Anthology of Nineteenth-Century Theatrical Entertainments after Homer

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Bloomsbury Publishing, Oct 4, 2018 - History - 296 pages
This anthology presents annotated scripts of four major burlesques by key playwrights: Melodrama Mad! or, the Siege of Troy by Thomas John Dibdin (1819); Telemachus; or, the Island of Calypso by J.R. Planché (1834); The Iliad; or, the Siege of Troy by Robert Brough (1858) and Ulysses; or the Ironclad Warriors and the Little Tug of War by F.C. Burnand (1865).

Beloved legend, archaeological riddle and educational staple: Homer's epic tales of the Trojan War and its aftermath were vividly reimagined in nineteenth-century Britain. Classical burlesques-exceptionally successful theatrical entertainments-continually mined the Iliad and Odyssey to lucrative comic effect. Burlesques combined song, dance and slapstick comedy with an eclectic kaleidoscope of topical allusions. From namedropping boxing legends to recasting Shakespearean combats, epic adaptations overflow with satirical commentary on politics, cultural highlights and everyday current affairs.

In uncovering Homer's irreverently playful afterlife, this selection showcases burlesque's development and wide appeal. The critical introduction analyses how these plays contested the accessibility of classical antiquity and dramatic performance. Textual and literary annotations, with contemporary illustrations, illuminate the juxtaposed sources to establish these repackaged epics as indispensable tools for unlocking nineteenth-century social, cultural and political history.

Resources for further study are available online.

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Online Materials
Thomas Dibdin Melodrama Mad or the Siege of Troy 1819
Robert B Brough Iliad or the Siege of Troy 1858
List of epic burlesques

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About the author (2018)

Rachel Bryant Davies is Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University of London, UK, and an Early Career Associate with the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, University of Oxford, UK. She is the author of Troy, Carthage and the Victorians: The Drama of Classical Ruins in the Nineteenth-Century Imagination (2018).

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