Category: Drama

(1693) The Comedies of William Congreve
(Penguin/Reading the Long 18th Century #5)

A young poet is liable to the same vanity and indiscretion with a young lover; and the great man that smiles upon one, and the fine woman that looks kindly upon t’other, are each of’em in danger of having the favour published with the first opportunity

Love For Love (Prologue, 213)

Written-in-a-creative-rush from 1692-1700 (aged 22-30) these plays have aged indifferently well, shall we say, and are still somewhat worth reading today, betimes.

By turns divertingly witty and penetratingly cynical about human nature, they can also be a bit of a slog, with the flat characters being so absurdly named and hard to tell apart. Still, I’d like to see these on stage one day, especially the incredibly manic The Double Dealer….


(1696-1705) The Relapse and Other Plays by John Vanbrugh
(Oxford/Reading the Long 18th Century #6)

4* (out of 5)

I’m awarding this 4* (3.5) because on the strength of the title play alone, which I found to be droller than anything by friend-of-Swift Sheridan, this more than deserves to be brought back into print (brought out in 2004, it was reissued by OUP in ’09, but I could only find it used).

The last three– increasingly short–plays are the rather amusing The Confederacy (4* but as it is a more or less faithful adaptation of a French play by Florent Dancourt, those stars belong to the originator!), the unfinished and unfunny A Journey to London (2*, written late in life, it seems), and the very brief, amusing farce (again cribbed from a French original), and the one-act The Country House in which the householder of a……