William Congreve

The Way of the World and Other Plays
  • The Way of the World and Other Plays

  • With piercing accuracy William ongreve depicted the shallow, brittle world of 'society' where the right artifice in manners, fashion and conversation--and money--eased the passage to success. Through sparkling, witty dialogue and brilliant characterisation--Lady Plyant, Valentine, Lady Touchwood, Mirabell and Millamant--Congreve exposed the follies and vanities of that world, and suggested that behind the glinting mirror lay something more brutal.

    'The language is everywhere that of Men of Honour, but their Actions are those of Knaves; a proof that he was perfectly well acquainted with human Nature, and frequented what we call polite company.' --Voltaire

    'Congreve quitted the stage in disdain, and comedy left it with him.' --A contemporary

George Etherege (1636-1689) invented the comedy of intrigue, and led the way for the masterpieces of Congreve and Sheridan. William Wycherley (1640?-1716) is famous for his brilliant wit and savagely clever satire which give him a prominent place in the history of English Restoration drama. William Congreve (1670-1729) was apprenticed under the tutelage of John Dryden. Congreve's wit and his characters' sexual freedom and experimentation were at odds with the thinking of certain moralists of the day. However, he has since been considered one of the most intellectually accomplished of English playwrights. Gamini Salgado was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and came to England in 1947 to attend the University of Nottingham. He became an expert on Elizabethan and Jacobean literature, and was appointed to the Chair of English at Exeter University in 1977. He died in 1985.

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