Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Thomas Shadwell, a prolific writer of comic drama, was also an energetic theatrical critic and polemicist, and a writer of pastorals, operas, and adaptations. His poetic output is divided into four categories: prologues and largely satiric epilogues that are found included in the printed texts of his own or others’ drama; songs from his plays; satires and lampoons; and a translation of The Tenth Satyr of Juvenal (1687), to which is prefixed the translation of a short poem by Lucan. Shadwell was an active and fierce participant in the literary wars of his time and produced many pamphlets flaying the enemies of the Whig cause. The Horrid Sin of Man-Catching, the Second Part (1681) is dedicated to the Whig leader, the earl of Shaftesbury. Some Reflections upon the Pretended Parallel in the Play Called “The Duke of Guise” (1683) provoked a savage attack from Thomas Otway in his play The Atheist: Or, The Second Part of the Soldier’s Fortune (pr. 1683). A few of Shadwell’s letters have survived, but the chief interest of his nondramatic work lies in the theatrical polemics found in the prose dedications to his plays. The ideas Shadwell presented in these dedications constitute a theory of dramatic method. His prologues are used as pleas for a reintroduction of Jonsonian classical values into dramatic structure as an alternative to prevailing Restoration comic misrule.