Early Plays From the Italian, Edited: With Essay, Introductions and Notes (Classic Reprint)
What I have endeavoured to do in this little book is something wider than an edition of three plays, and something closer than can well be done in a literary history. I started with the wish to show how ancient Greek and Roman Comedy finds representation in our own, not only in subject and spirit, but in matters of form and technique: and to show this not only by statement and discussion, but by giving therewith actual plays to which the reader might instantly turn for verification of indicated parallelism or imitation. I wished to bring under the purely English reader's notice some facts about ancient comedy for its own sake, facts usually too cursorily dismissed in histories of the modern drama to leave a very distinct impression on the mind: and at the same time I wished to show the great importance of Italian Renaissance Comedy in handing on the classical form and substance to modern Europe, while introducing considerable modifications of it.
The general influence of Italy has been stated again and again. Critic after critic has raked together the allusions to Italian fashions, Italian books, Italian acting, found in English treatises of the first twenty or thirty years of Elizabeth, or in English plays of the latter half of her reign. But the illustration offered has been inadequate to ensure the due realization of the Latin or Italian connexion: and that largely because English exemplars of classical dramatic form were so few and so inaccessible.
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