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The Artifice

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Book Details

Title:The Artifice
Author:
Centlivre, Susanna   
(1 of 18 for author by title)
The Basset-Table
Published:   1760
Tags:drama, fiction, humour
Description:

Well, not just one artifice. This play is awash with dirty tricks and dodgy behaviour. Take Mr. Watchit, a husband so paranoid about his wife's chastity that he hasn't let her out of the house for years. Of course, this irritates his good lady, who works hard to get around the restrictions. Or poor Sir John Freeman, disinherited in favour of his younger Brother Ned, who in turn has dumped his Dutch wife so he can wheedle his way into the good graces of Sir John's beloved, Olivia (and more importantly, her rich father).

Confusing? Oh yes. And resulting in some wonderful slapstick comedy, a lot of which, oddly enough, seems to take place in bedrooms. And with a big helping of comeuppance.

This play is from vol. 3 of the collected works. [Suggest a different description.]

Downloads:180
Pages:163 Info

Author Bio for Centlivre, Susanna

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Susanna Centlivre (c. 1667 to 1670—1 December 1723), born Susanna Freeman and also known professionally as Susanna Carroll, was an English poet, actress, and "the most successful female playwright of the eighteenth century". Centlivre's "pieces continued to be acted after the theatre managers had forgotten most of her contemporaries." During a long career at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, she became known as the second woman of the English stage, after Aphra Behn.

Centlivre's plays show a strikingly liberal point of view. She wrote frankly in the face of strong sexual mores that discouraged women playwrights. Centlivre managed to push the boundaries of contemporary social norms, and yet she was widely appreciated only as a comic writer. She did not garner much positive critical acclaim. Although her plays enjoyed success in theatres, critics such as William Hazlitt wrote condescendingly of them. Alexander Pope found her writings offensive for political and religious reasons, and thought them a threat to greater dramatists by pandering to popular taste. He went so far as to assume that she had helped with Edmund Curll's pamphlet The Catholic Poet: or, Protestant Barnaby's Sorrowful Lamentation. For those reasons she was lampooned as having a supposedly mannish appearance (among other faults), most famously by Pope in several pieces. Regardless of her peers' opinions, her plays continued to be performed for over 150 years after her death.

Overall, Centlivre was a powerful influence on society as a female intellect. Her works encouraged female writers to continue to push the limits of traditional feminine roles by publicly treating the cause of equality between the sexes. The diarist Agnes Porter, governess to the children of the earl of Ilchester, saw a performance of Centlivre's The Busy Body at the Little Theatre, Haymarket on 7 March 1791, but wrote that it was "very badly performed".--Wikipedia.

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