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John Oxenford (1812-1877) as Farceur and Critic of Comedy

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Klaus Stierstorfer

John Oxenford (1812-1877) was a prominent figure in the 19th-century theatrical landscape. A successful playwright himself, he gained equal respect as theatre critic of The Times for 30 years. His literary achievements also include a number of competent translations and many contributions to periodicals on a variety of subjects. This study explores the exuberant world of his farces, identifying them as the genre best suited to his literary taste and outlook. Chapters I-III highlight his theoretical views on comedy and drama implied in his many essays and reviews. The results are then used in a close analysis of his plays in chapters IV-VIII. In the process, Oxenford's farces emerge as a highly original body of theatrical literature, based on an expert understanding of the stage, clear dramatic concepts, a Rabelaisian appreciation for fun, and an unerring sense for the expectations of a Victorian audience.
Contents: Oxenford's comic outlook: Rabelais and the humorists; Schopenhauer and the satirists - Oxenford's dramatic concepts - The making of Oxenford's farce - Adaptations from Goldoni and Labiche - In search of a new form.