Foreign Influences

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Many of the playwrights of the Restoration would fit easily into that category that Alexander Pope described as “the mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease.” Among the dramatists were two dukes, four earls, a viscount, a baron, fifteen knights and baronets, and dozens of gentlemen. During Oliver Cromwell’s regime, a number of these men lived in exile; as a result, they became familiar with the Continental drama of the period. Killigrew wrote The Princess (pr. c. 1636) in Naples, Bellamira Her Dream (pb. 1664) in Venice, Claracilla (pr. c. 1636) in Rome, The Parson’s Wedding (pr. c. 1640) in Basle, Cecilia and Clorinda (pb. 1664) in Turin, and The Pilgrim (pb. 1664) in Paris. The Parson’s Wedding was revived in 1664, the same year in which the other plays were published. The patentee of one of London’s two theaters was obviously well versed in foreign drama. Etherege, to cite another example, lived in Paris when Molière was producing his works and drew from them for his own plays.

Molière was in fact the most influential foreign dramatist in the period; his plays served as sources for numerous Restoration comedies. L’École des maris (pr. 1661; The School for Husbands, 1732) was the basis of at least part of Sir Charles Sedley’s The Mulberry-Garden (pr. 1668) and Thomas Shadwell’s The Squire of Alsatia (pr. 1688). John Caryll’s Sir Salomon (pr. 1669) derives from L’École des femmes (pr. 1662; The School for Wives, 1732). Le Misanthrope (pr. 1666; The Misanthrope, 1709) gives much to William Wycherley’s The Plain-Dealer (pr. 1676) and Shadwell’s The Sullen Lovers: Or, The Impertinents (pr. 1668). L’Avare (pr. 1668; The...

(The entire section is 752 words.)