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|The sentimental Muse
Written by Elena
(2/28/2007 12:32 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, "Primly Portray'd on Emblematic wood", penned by JulieW
Well, all this is my NSHO, but I read the prologue as Sheridan's attack upon the genre of "sentimental comedy", which could be counted as comedies if ended with wedding bells, but always turned out as lachrymose creations, full of long-winded moralizing. There was such a dramatic genre in the 18th century, denoting plays in which middle-class protagonists triumphantly overcome a series of moral trials. Even Britannica sighs that such comedy aimed at producing tears rather than laughter (the French term is comedie larmoyante). It was very much alive at the time, so Sheridan bluntly pronounces his preference for "humour, quaint and sly", "gay invention", "satire's strokes", "conscious blush her wit provokes".
"Must we displace her, and instead advance
Actually the description of possibilities "to end her comedies in blood" is hilarious!
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