The Impresario in Political and Cultural Context
This new collection of essays on Richard Brinsley Sheridan brings the most important British playwright of the eighteenth century back to the forefront of literary and cultural studies of the era. While his pyrotechnic life as a romantic hero, playwright, Member of Parliament, and theatre manager has generated a number of recent biographies, it is Sheridan's works - not just plays but also poetry and orations - that endure. These essays reclaim the legacy of the man of letters and partisan bon vivant who burst from obscurity to become a powerful cultural force in Georgian London. This collection covers the many lives of Sheridan, taking into account both his variegated career and the competing accounts of the man, as well as his early verse, which lays the foundation for his success as a playwright. Chapters are devoted to Sheridan's theatre, and provide innovative readings of his most famous dramatic pieces: The Rivals, The Duenna, The School for Scandal, The Critic, and Pizarro. The volume also includes extensive discussion of the dramatic highs of Sheridan's long political career, thus placing the playwright-politician firmly in the world in which performance and politics were inextricably entwined.
Contributors: Mita Choudhury, Jack E. DeRochi, Marianna D'Ezio, Daniel J. Ennis, Emily Friedman, Steven Gores, David Haley, Robert W. Jones, Daniel O'Quinn, Glynis Ridley, John Vance, David Francis Taylor
"[...]ending the book with an essay on caricature might be a brilliantly ironic move by the editors to admit that any project that attempts to cover the full breadth of Sheridan runs up against 'theatrical politics' (281), and underneath a suspect subject who dazzles but remains unknowable. Sheridan is a fascinating figure, and hopefully this book will encourage more critics and teachers to incorporate him into their accounts of the period. In answer to the question of whether a new book on him is worthwhile, the evidence of this one suggests a resounding 'Yes'."
-James Kelly, University of Exeter, The BARS Review, No. 47 (Spring 2016)
"DeRochi and Ennis bring together discrete critical voices, creating a holistic portrait of Sheridan as poet, playwright, critic, orator, and polemicist. In its desire to bring Sheridan into the twenty-first century, the collection imitates its principal subject, whose ability to transform himself with the changing times is dramatically and decisively detailed in these pages. . . . To paraphrase the introduction's playful ventriloquism of Sheridan's Puff, I am in complete agreement that the collection is "astoundingly great."
--The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer, 27:2.
Read a review in Recent Studies in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century here.
Read the University press article here.
About the editors:
Jack E. DeRochi is associate professor of English at Winthrop University. He has published several articles on late eighteenth-century drama and satire in such publications as Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Research and Studies in American Humor. His essay on the emergence of the masculine gothic was included in Prologues, Epilogues, Curtain-Raisers and Afterpieces: The Rest of the Eighteenth-Century London Stage (2007).
Daniel J. Ennis is professor of English at Coastal Carolina University. He is the author of Enter the Press-Gang: Representations of Naval Impressment in Eighteenth-Century British Literature (2002) and edited, with Judith B. Slagle, a collection of essays titled Prologues, Epilogues, Curtain-Raisers and Afterpieces: The Rest of the Eighteenth-Century London Stage (2007). He has published essays John Dryden, Christopher Smart, and Lord Byron among others.
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