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A critical edition of the manuscript of Thomas Shadwell's 'The Humorists'

By Richard Perkin


The thesis consists of an edited text conservatively based on the manuscript of the original version of The Humorists, an introduction, a textual introduction and critical apparatus, and a commentary on the text. The textual introduction argues the presence of Shadwell's own hand in alterations made to the manuscript and hence its authority\ud as copy-text. Early published editions of the play\ud (those of 1671,1691 and 1720) are collated in the critical apparatus. The introduction describes Shadwell's early life and literary career, offering fresh evidence concerning his authorship of parts of The Triumphant Widow and its effect on Dryden's treatment of the "hero" in MacFlecknoe.\ud It examines attitudes to personal satire in classical times, in the plays of Ben Jonson and in the Restoration period. Shadwell's own practice in The Sullen Lovers is analysed to demonstrate his combination of personal and general satire and to show the clear influence on him of some of Martial's Epigrams. The manuscript version of The Humorists and the published version are compared in detail, and an attempt is made to explain the alterations. Many of them are seen to be due to pressure exerted by the whoremasters of the time (possibly including the Duke of York) and by Lady Castlemaine. The powerful influence of Ben Jonson on The Humorists is discussed (in terms both of Shadwell's direct plagiarisms from Jonson and of more general borrowings. Finally, the manuscript version of the play is critically assessed as being a successful example of comic satire, dealing with the commercialisation of love and marriage in a way that was far more effective than was shown in the published version of the play

Publisher: School of English (Leeds)
Year: 1980
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