A Companion to Restoration Drama by Susan J. Owen
By Susan J. Owen
This 'Companion' illustrates the power and variety of dramatic paintings 1660 to 1710. Twenty-five essays by means of prime students within the box compile the simplest fresh insights into the whole diversity of dramatic perform and innovation on the time.
• Introduces readers to the hot increase in scholarship that has revitalised recovery drama
• Explores old and cultural contexts, genres of recovery drama, and key dramatists, between them Dryden and Behn
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Extra resources for A Companion to Restoration Drama
Dryden instigated the debate in the dedication to The Rival Ladies; Howard replied in 'To the Reader' prefixed to Four New Plays (1665). Dryden continued the debate in An Essay of Dramatick Poesie, where he simulated (and cleverly manipulated) the controversy in the characters of Crites (Howard) and Neander (Dryden). Howard's angry reply in the preface to The Duke of Lerma (1668) was, in turn, answered by Dryden's very lengthy and mean-spirited last word in 'Defence of an Essay'. The student of late seventeenth-century English criticism need only read Dryden's Essay to get the gist of the controversy.
Collier begins A Short View by establishing his moralistic definition of drama: 'The Business of Plays is to recom- Restoration Dramatic Theory and Criticism 33 mend Vertue, and discountenance Vice' (1). Despite various arguments about how morality is conveyed to the audience, almost every one of Collier's respondents accepted his definition, and even agreed that modern drama was in need of moral reformation. Consequently, having assented to the basic premise of Collier's argument, his opponents were never completely successful in refuting him.
In the 1670s, Dryden continues this trend in his prefatory criticism by both brazenly challenging assaults on his artistic integrity and appending to his play texts lengthy and learned essays on genre, dramatic history and technique. In the preface to An Evening's Love (1671), Dryden detailed his theory of comedy; and 'Of Heroique Playes' and 'Defence of the Epilogue: or An Essay on the Dramatique Poetry of the Last Age', both attached to The Conquest of Granada (1672), addressed, respectively, his theory of serious drama and the inferiority of Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights as literary models.