•Lisideius argues that French drama is superior to English drama, based on the lack of literary productivity since Shakespeare’s time: “we have been so long together bad Englishmen, that we had not leisure to be good poets. . . The Muses, who ever follow peace, went to plant in another country.” Lisideius praises the reformation of the French theater under Richelieu and Corneille, and extols the close adherence to the classical separation of comedy and tragedy. For Lisideius "no theater in the world has anything so absurd as the English tragicomedy . . . in two hours and a half, we run through all the fits of Bedlam." The grounding of French drama in history, its interweaving “truth with probable fiction,” makes it a higher achievement than the English.
Neander represents Dryden’s own views, which favor the modern and the English, but does not disparage the ancients. He respects Lisideius’ argument that the French “contrive their plots more regularly,” but he favors English drama for their more organic and complex qualities. He criticizes the French stage, noting that "those beauties of the French poesy are such as will raise perfection higher where it is, but are not sufficient to give it where it is not: they are indeed the beauties of a statue, but not of a man."
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