Genre and Generic Change in English Comedy 1660-1710

Genre and Generic Change in English Comedy 1660-1710

BRIAN CORMAN
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 168
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttr6d
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  • Book Info
    Genre and Generic Change in English Comedy 1660-1710
    Book Description:

    Corman proposes a new way of looking at genre and generic change and brings a remarkable thoroughness and sensitivity to his study of individual authors and their work.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7523-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 The ʹMixt Wayʹ of Comedy
    (pp. 3-20)

    The most important contributionThe London Stagehas made to a critical reassessment of late seventeenth-century drama has been in forcing critics to acknowledge the enormous diversity of dramatic activity in post-Restoration London. It is no longer possible to argue for a monolithic ʹRestoration comedy,ʹ ʹcomedy of manners,ʹ or ʹcomedy of witʹ based on the plays of a few favoured writers, such as Etherege, Wycherley, and Congreve. The pioneering efforts of such critics as A.H. Scouten established the need to look beyond the canon to capture a representative selection of plays; Robert D. Humeʹs Herculean survey of all the new...

  5. 2 Six Representative Comedies, 1670–1675
    (pp. 21-49)

    The most visible and vocal follower of Jonson in the Restoration was, of course, Thomas Shadwell. Shadwellʹs theory of humours is presented most concisely and clearly in the epilogue toThe Humorists:

    A Humor is the Byas of the Mind,

    By which with violence ʹtis one way inclinʹd:

    It makes our Actions lean on one side still,

    And in all Changes that way bends the Will.

    The Mighty Prince of Poets, Learned BEN,

    Who alone divʹd into the Minds of Men:

    Saw all their wanderings, all their follies knew,

    And all their vain fantastick passions drew,

    In Images so lively...

  6. 3 Six Representative Comedies, 1690–1695
    (pp. 50-91)

    Like most first comedies, includingLove in a WoodandThe Countrey Wit, Congreve’sThe Old Batchelourserves more to summarize its dramatic tradition than to advance it. Johnson describes it as ʹone of those comedies which may be made by a mind vigorous and acute, and furnished with comick characters by the perusal of other poets, without much actual commerce with mankind,ʹ and Southerne confirms this impression in his account of the early revisions of Congreveʹs original manuscript:

    He began his Play the old Bachelor haveing little Acquaintance withe the traders in that way, his Cozens recommended him to...

  7. 4 Six Representative Comedies, 1705–1710
    (pp. 92-133)

    A mere eleven years separateLove for Lovefrom George Farquharʹs equally successful, post-Collier comedy, The Recruiting Officer. Though Congreve and Farquhar have often usefully been associated respectively with the old comedy and the new, the penultimate comedies by these young writers who dominated the London stage for consecutive and slightly overlapping decades also point to the similar problems each faced in coming to terms with their shared comic tradition. That Farquhar, like Congreve and Shadwell before him, gave serious thought to the relationship between the punitive and sympathetic elements in comedy is evident from ʹA Discourse upon Comedy,ʹ his...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 134-138)

    In a typically clear and succinct statement, Alastair Fowler summarizes the most frequently employed means of generic change: ʹThe processes by which genres change are the same as those that produce most literary change … Those that stand out may be identified as: topical invention, combination, aggregation, change of scale, change of function, counterstatement, inclusion, selection, and generic mixture. No doubt there are others; but these would be enough in themselves to cover the main changes known to literary historyʹ¹ A fuller summary might consider the impact of what have often been considered extraliterary factors, such as, for Restoration comedy,...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 139-160)
  10. Index
    (pp. 161-168)