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- Lectures on Dramatic Art - 1/97 -


"Were I to pray for a taste which should stand me in stead under every variety of circumstances, and be a source of happiness and cheerfulness to me during life, and a shield against its ills, however things might go amiss and the world frown upon me, it would he a taste for reading.... Give a man this taste, and the means of gratifying it, and you can hardly fail of making him a happy man; unless, indeed, you put into his hands a most perverse selection of Books. You place him in contact with the best society in every period of history,--with the wisest, the wittiest, the tenderest, the bravest, and the purest characters who have adorned humanity. You make him a denizen of all nations, a contemporary of all ages. The world has been created for him."--SIR JOHN HERSCHEL. _Address on the opening of the Eton Library_, 1833.

LECTURES ON DRAMATIC ART AND LITERATURE

BY AUGUST WILHELM SCHLEGEL.

CONTENTS.

Preface of the Translator.

Author's Preface.

Memoir of the Life of Augustus William Schlegel.

LECTURE I.

Introduction--Spirit of True Criticism--Difference of Taste between the Ancients and Moderns--Classical and Romantic Poetry and Art--Division of Dramatic Literature; the Ancients, their Imitators, and the Romantic Poets.

LECTURE II.

Definition of the Drama--View of the Theatres of all Nations--Theatrical Effect--Importance of the Stage--Principal Species of the Drama.

LECTURE III.

Essence of Tragedy and Comedy--Earnestness and Sport--How far it is possible to become acquainted with the Ancients without knowing Original Languages--Winkelmann.

LECTURE IV.

Structure of the Stage among the Greeks--Their Acting--Use of Masks--False comparison of Ancient Tragedy to the Opera--Tragical Lyric Poetry.

LECTURE V.

Essence of the Greek Tragedies--Ideality of the Representation--Idea of Fate--Source of the Pleasure derived from Tragical Representations--Import of the Chorus--The materials of Greek Tragedy derived from Mythology-- Comparison with the Plastic Arts.

LECTURE VI.

Progress of the Tragic Art among the Greeks--Various styles of Tragic Art --Aeschylus--Connexion in a Trilogy of Aeschylus--His remaining Works.

LECTURE VII.

Life and Political Character of Sophocles--Character of his different Tragedies.

LECTURE VIII.

Euripides--His Merits and Defects--Decline of Tragic Poetry through him.

LECTURE IX.

Comparison between the _Choephorae_ of Aeschylus, the _Electra_ of Sophocles, and that of Euripides.

LECTURE X.

Character of the remaining Works of Euripides--The Satirical Drama-- Alexandrian Tragic Poets.

LECTURE XI.

The Old Comedy proved to be completely a contrast to Tragedy--Parody-- Ideality of Comedy the reverse of that of Tragedy--Mirthful Caprice-- Allegoric and Political Signification--The Chorus and its Parabases.

LECTURE XII.

Aristophanes--His Character as an Artist--Description and Character of his remaining Works--A Scene, translated from the _Acharnae_, by way of Appendix.

LECTURE XIII.

Whether the Middle Comedy was a distinct species--Origin of the New Comedy--A mixed species--Its prosaic character--Whether versification is essential to Comedy--Subordinate kinds--Pieces of Character, and of Intrigue--The Comic of observation, of self-consciousness, and arbitrary Comic--Morality of Comedy.

LECTURE XIV.

Plautus and Terence as Imitators of the Greeks, here examined and characterized in the absence of the Originals they copied--Motives of the Athenian Comedy from Manners and Society--Portrait-Statues of two Comedians.

LECTURE XV.

Roman Theatre--Native kinds: Atellane Fables, Mimes, Comoedia Togata-- Greek Tragedy transplanted to Rome--Tragic Authors of a former Epoch, and of the Augustan Age--Idea of a National Roman Tragedy--Causes of the want of success of the Romans in Tragedy--Seneca.

LECTURE XVI.

The Italians--Pastoral Dramas of Tasso and Guarini--Small progress in Tragedy--Metastasio and Alfieri--Character of both--Comedies of Ariosto, Aretin, Porta--Improvisatore Masks--Goldoni--Gozzi--Latest state.

LECTURE XVII.

Antiquities of the French Stage--Influence of Aristotle and the Imitation of the Ancients--Investigation of the Three Unities--What is Unity of Action?--Unity of Time--Was it observed by the Greeks?--Unity of Place as connected with it.

LECTURE XVIII.

Mischief resulting to the French Stage from too narrow Interpretation of the Rules of Unity--Influence of these rules on French Tragedy--Manner of treating Mythological and Historical Materials--Idea of Tragical Dignity-- Observation of Conventional Rules--False System of Expositions.

LECTURE XIX.

Use at first made of the Spanish Theatre by the French--General Character of Corneille, Racine, and Voltaire--Review of the principal Works of Corneille and of Racine--Thomas Corneille and Crebillon.

LECTURE XX.

Voltaire--Tragedies on Greek Subjects: _Oedipe_, _Merope_, _Oreste_-- Tragedies on Roman Subjects: _Brute_, _Mort de César_, _Catiline_, _Le Triumvirat_--Earlier Pieces: _Zaire_, _Alzire_, _Mahomet_, _Semiramis_, And _Tancred_.

LECTURE XXI.

French Comedy--Molière--Criticism of his Works--Scarron, Boursault, Regnard; Comedies in the Time of the Regency; Marivaux and Destouches; Piron and Gresset--Later Attempts--The Heroic Opera: Quinault--Operettes and Vaudevilles--Diderot's attempted Change of the Theatre--The Weeping Drama--Beaumarchais--Melo-Dramas--Merits and Defects of the Histrionic Art.

LECTURE XXII.

Comparison of the English and Spanish Theatres--Spirit of the Romantic Drama--Shakspeare--His Age and the Circumstances of his Life.

LECTURE XXIII.

Ignorance or Learning of Shakspeare--Costume as observed by Shakspeare, and how far necessary, or may be dispensed with, in the Drama--Shakspeare the greatest drawer of Character--Vindication of the genuineness of his pathos--Play on Words--Moral Delicacy--Irony-Mixture of the Tragic and Comic--The part of the Fool or Clown--Shakspeare's Language and Versification.

LECTURE XXIV.

Criticisms on Shakspeare's Comedies.

LECTURE XXV.

Criticisms on Shakspeare's Tragedies.

LECTURE XXVI.

Criticisms on Shakspeare's Historical Dramas.

LECTURE XXVII.

Two Periods of the English Theatre: the first the most important--The first Conformation of the Stage, and its Advantages--State of the Histrionic Art in Shakspeare's Time--Antiquities of Dramatic Literature-- Lilly, Marlow, Heywood--Ben Jonson; Criticism of his Works--Masques-- Beaumont and Fletcher--General Characterization of these Poets, and Remarks on some of their Pieces--Massinger and other Contemporaries of Charles I.

LECTURE XXVIII.

Closing of the Stage by the Puritans--Revival of the Stage under Charles


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