The First Edition of this acclaimed classroom text presented five distinguished comedies from an especially exciting and innovative period in English theater and society: William Wycherley's The Country Wife
, George Etherege's The Man of Mode
, William Congreve's The Way of the World
, Richard Steele's The Conscious Lovers
, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School for Scandal
. This Second Edition builds on its predecessor's strengths by adding a sixth play, Aphra Behn's The Rover
, a comedy that has clearly come into prominence in recent years. The plays are fully annotated for the modern reader and are accompanied by six illustrations.
The close relationship between theater and society during the period continues to be the focus of "Contexts." The editor offers contemporary discussions of the following topics: "On Wit, Humour, and Laughter: 1660–1775," "The Collier Controversy: 1698," "Steele and Dennis: On The Man of Mode and The Conscious Lovers," and "Stages, Actors, and Audiences."
"Criticism" has been revised to reflect recent approaches in scholarly interpretations. Two seminal essays from the First Edition have been retained—Charles Lamb's appreciation of the period's comedy and L. C . Knights's condemnation of it. New essays by Jocelyn Powell, Harriett Hawkins, Elin Diamond, Martin Price, and Laura Brown have been added.
The Selected Bibliography has been thoroughly updated.