Thomas Durfey Criticism - Essay

Cyrus L. Day (essay date April 1932)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Day, Cyrus L. “Pills to Purge Melancholy.Review of English Studies VIII, no. 30 (April 1932): 177-84.

[In the following excerpt, Day lists the publication dates of various editions of Pills to Purge Melancholy, traces the beginning of Durfey's editorial work on the series to a relatively late edition, and describes how the title of this popular collection of songs evolved over the years.]

One of the most entertaining of eighteenth-century poetical miscellanies is the six-volume collection of songs and ballads entitled Wit and Mirth: Or Pills To Purge Melancholy. The first volume of this well-known series was published in 1698 and the...

(The entire section is 2561 words.)

Cyrus L. Day (essay date 1959)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Day, Cyrus L. Introduction to Wit and Mirth: Or Pills to Purge Melancholy, edited by Thomas D'Urfey, pp. i-xi. New York: Folklore Library Publishers, 1959.

[In the following excerpt, Day describes the popular appeal of Pills to Purge Melancholy.]

The successive volumes of Wit and Mirth: Or Pills to Purge Melancholy,—D'Urfey's Pills, as they are commonly called,—edited originally (1698-1706) by Henry Playford, and in a final six-volume edition (1719-1720) by Thomas D'Urfey, occupy a unique position in the history of English songs and vocal music. They mark the close of an area of intellectual contempt for popular literature, and the beginning...

(The entire section is 1707 words.)

William W. Appleton (essay date 1964)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Appleton, William W. Introduction to Wonders in the Sun, Or, The Kingdom of The Birds (1706), by Thomas D'Urfey, pp. i-iv. Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 1964.

[In the following essay, Appleton describes Wonders in the Sun, as an odd opera full of political allusions that failed with both critics and audience.]

Theatre historians and musicologists have been bewildered by Thomas D'Urfey's Wonders in the Sun. Dr. Burney found it a “whimsical drama,” John Genest an “eccentric piece,” and today we are still hard put to classify it. Described by the author as a “Comick Opera,” D'Urfey's entertainment was performed by...

(The entire section is 1515 words.)

Jack A. Vaughn (essay date December 1967)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Vaughn, Jack A. “‘Persevering, Unexhausted Bard’: Tom D'Urfey.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 53, no. 4 (December 1967): 342-48.

[In the following essay, Vaughn views Durfey's plays as valuable for the insights they provide into Restoration dramatic tastes.]

Thomas D'Urfey (1653-1723), known to his contemporaries as Tom, was one of the more popular and prolific of Restoration playwrights, yet his name is all but unknown today. It is unfortunate that a dramatist who produced thirty-three plays for the English theatre and who shared the limelight with Congreve and Vanbrugh in Jeremy Collier's indictment of the London stage should today be unrepresented by a...

(The entire section is 3784 words.)

Peter Holland (essay date 1979)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Holland, Peter. “Durfey's Revisions of The Richmond Heiress.Archiv für das Studium der Neueren Sprachen und Literaturen 216 (1979): 116-20.

[In the following essay, Holland notes that a revised version of Durfey's The Richmond Heiress, one that eliminated much of the satirical force of the original, demonstrates the diminishing appeal of satiric comedy in the 1690s.]

Thomas Durfey's The Richmond Heiress was first performed in April 1693; it was not a success. Dryden wrote to Walsh on 9 May:

Durfey has brought another farce upon the Stage: but his luck left him: it was suffered but foure dayes; and...

(The entire section is 2226 words.)

James L. Thorson (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Thorson, James L. Introduction to Butler's Ghost, by Thomas D'Urfey, pp. iii-xxi. Delmar, N.Y.: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, 1984.

[In the following excerpt, Thorson discusses the political themes in Durfey's Butler's Ghost,]

Thomas D'Urfey's Butler's Ghost: or, Hudibras, the Fourth Part first appeared on the English literary, political, and religious scene in March 1682 in the aftermath of the Popish Plot and Exclusion crises. The poem cannot claim to be the most famous work to grow out of the controversy, as that honor must undoubtedly go to John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel (1681), but it is of real interest to students of the period...

(The entire section is 2692 words.)

Jack Knowles (essay date fall 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Knowles, Jack. “Thomas D'Urfey and Three Centuries of Critical Response.” Restoration 8, no. 2 (fall 1984): 72-80.

[In the following essay, Knowles describes the critical reception to Durfey's work from his own lifetime to the twentieth century.]

In his own day, Thomas D'Urfey (or Durfey) was compared by Gerard Langbaine to “the Cuckow [who] makes it his business to suck other Birds Eggs.”1 Roughly two centuries later, even less regard was expressed by A. W. Ward, who claimed that D'Urfey probably represented “the literary nadir of Restoration comedy—and indeed of the Restoration drama in general.”2 More recently, however,...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Baldwin, Olive and Wilson, Thelma. “The Music for Durfey's Cinthia and Endimion.Theatre Notebook 41, no. 2 (1987): 70-4.

[In the following essay, Baldwin and Wilson discuss the lyrics and musical accompaniment of several of the songs in Durfey's Cinthia and Endimion.]

Carolyn Kephart, in her article on Durfey's A New Opera call'd Cinthia and Endimion (Theatre Notebook xxxix, 3), confined her consideration of the music to the four songs to be found in Day and Murrie's English Song-Books 1651-1702.1 In fact, the situation is more complex and interesting: music for the opera survives elsewhere and two of the four...

(The entire section is 1967 words.)

Raymond Adam Biswanger, Jr. (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Biswanger, Raymond Adam. Introduction to Thomas D'Urfey's The Richmond Heiress: An Edition with Introduction and Notes, edited by Raymond Adam Biswanger, Jr., pp. xi-cxvi. New York: Garland Publishing, 1987.

[In the following excerpt, Biswanger describes how the popularity of Durfey's songs lasted longer than that of his plays, and discusses Durfey's contribution to the development of the sentimental comedy as a dramatic genre.]

Thomas D'Urfey was a prolific writer. Taken as a whole, this list of plays would seem to be a tremendous achievement, numbering as it does, twenty-three comedies, five tragedies, three operas, a burlesque opera, and a...

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William E. Carpenter (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Carpenter, William E. Introduction to Thomas D'Urfey's The Virtuous Wife: A Critical Edition, edited by William E. Carpenter, pp. 17-34. New York: Garland Publishing, 1987.

[In the following excerpt, Carpenter explores several of Durfey's comedies.]


D'Urfey's first comedy, Madam Fickle: Or, The Witty False One (November 1676),1 is an amusing play in which Madam Fickle, a supposed widow, is besieged by three suitors anxious to wed such a lovely and rich lady. The plot builds around Madam's witty tricks to tease, lead on, yet elude the suitors, while keeping each ignorant of the...

(The entire section is 12939 words.)

Christopher Wheatley (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wheatley, Christopher. “‘Power Like New Wine’: The Appetites of Leviathan and Durfey's Massaniello.Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 22 (1992): 231-51.

[In the following essay, Wheatley analyzes the political and social themes of Durfey's Massaniello, a play based on an Italian peasant uprising.]

Traditional descriptions of Restoration political drama as “Whig” or “Tory” are sometimes irrelevant to plays that lack an immediate topical application to English political events: Thomas Durfey's two part The Famous History of the Rise and Fall of Massaniello is an example of a play that defies such classification. Although...

(The entire section is 8638 words.)

Christopher Wheatley (essay date fall 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wheatley, Christopher. “Thomas Durfey's A Fond Husband, Sex Comedies of the Late 1670s and Early 1680s, and the Comic Sublime.” Studies in Philology 90 (fall 1993): 371-90.

[In the following excerpt, Wheatley discusses English sex comedies from the 1670s and 1680s, of which Durfey's A Fond Husband and The Virtuous Wife were among the most popular and influential.]

In Thomas Shadwell's A True Widow (1678) the poetaster Young Maggot describes a new play that he admires to the male leads Bellamour and Carlos: “I saw it Scene by Scene, and helped him in the writing, it breaks well, the Protasis good, the Catastasis...

(The entire section is 4999 words.)

Christopher Wheatley (essay date October 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wheatley, Christopher. “‘But speak every thing in its Nature’: Influence and Ethics in Durfey's Adaptations of Fletcher.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 95, no. 4 (October 1996): 515-33.

[In the following essay, Wheatley discusses three plays Durfey adapted from dramas by John Fletcher, arguing that the adaptations show an interest in ethical problems seldom attributed to Durfey in particular or to Restoration comedy in general.]

Thomas Durfey, the most prolific playwright of the Restoration, adapted three plays by John Fletcher: Trick for Trick (1678) from Monsieur Thomas (1615), A Commonwealth of Women (1685) from...

(The entire section is 8261 words.)

Garry Sherbert (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Sherbert, Garry. “Metaphysic Wit: The Charm and Riddle of D'Urfey's Menippean Satire. In Menippean Satire and the Poetics of Wit: Ideologies of Self-Consciousness in Dunton, D'Urfey, and Sterne, pp. 76-117. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.

[In the following essay, Sherbert discusses the riddles, puns, and other comic techniques Durfey used in his parody of John Norris's An Essay Towards the Theory of the Intelligible World.]

Wit's false mirror

—Alexander Pope, Essay on Man

Thomas D'Urfey's contribution to the eighteenth-century battle of wits is his “Satyrical Fable”, An Essay Towards the Theory of the Intelligible...

(The entire section is 17473 words.)