Court and Country Politics in the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher
Philip J. Finkelpearl
The seventeenth-century English collaborative authors Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher were not only the most popular playwrights of their day but also literary figures highly esteemed by the great critics of the age, Jonson and Dryden. Concentrating on the passions of the royalty and high nobility in a courtly atmosphere, their dramas are now usually seen as epitomizing a decadent turn in theater at the end of the Jacobean period. Philip Finkelpearl sets out to change this view by revealing the subtle political challenges contained in the plays and by showing that they criticize rather than exemplify false values. The result is a wholly new conception of this pair of dramatists and of the entire question of the relationship between the Crown and the theater in their time. Finkelpearl presents new biographical material revealing that Beaumont and Fletcher had good and sufficient reasons to be critical of the court and the king, and he shows that their most important works--especially The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Philaster, A King and No King, and The Maid's Tragedy have such criticism as a central concern. Court and Country Politics in the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher offers much information on the nature of the "public" and "private" theaters at which these plays were presented and on Jacobean censorship. The book is an impressive explanation of why Beaumont and Fletcher were a central force in the Age of Shakespeare.
First published in 1990.
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